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View Full Version : End of Empires: who and what was responsible? (post WW2)


JMA
05-16-2011, 09:56 PM
Moderator's Note

In the thread 'Popular rebellion, state response and our failure to date: a debate ' several posts have appeared of late on the role of FDR (President Roosevelt) and the demise post-1956 of the mainly European empires: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=13002. Those posts have been relocated to this historical thread, so a debate can occur.(Moderator ends).



Decolonialisation rebellions were also often rather based on the idea of sovereignty than on organisations.

Almost.

But it was always organisations (political parties) that exploited the idea and motivation of the concept of sovereignty and self determination among the people/masses in order to achieve power.

How many of the colonies that were granted independence after say 1950 led to a country where the people and not some dictatorship ruled?

That this was not anticipated or alternatively that this outcome was deemed inevitable and therefore acceptable says much about the driving force behind this decolonialisation process ... the USA under FDR.

While Stalin and Mao presided over the repression on a grand scale no one person delivered people into the death grip of dictators and repression like FDR. Truly a man who should be placed right up there in the rouges gallery next to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Enver (Turkey), Pol Pot, Assad, Mengistu, Mugabe etc etc due to the number lives and human suffering his incompetent statesmanship cost.

Dayuhan
05-16-2011, 11:23 PM
That this was not anticipated or alternatively that this outcome was deemed inevitable and therefore acceptable says much about the driving force behind this decolonialisation process ... the USA under FDR.

While Stalin and Mao presided over the repression on a grand scale no one person delivered people into the death grip of dictators and repression like FDR. Truly a man who should be placed right up there in the rouges gallery next to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Enver (Turkey), Pol Pot, Assad, Mengistu, Mugabe etc etc due to the number lives and human suffering his incompetent statesmanship cost.

I'm not sure the USA was the sole or primary driving force behind the decolonization process... in most cases the colonies were going to break free no matter what the US did. The only colony the US had made a transition into (dysfunctional) democracy. I'm not at all sure that the US could ever have controlled the decolonization process or the form of postcolonial government for colonies of other countries.

Certainly decolonization was handled clumsily by the European powers, who generally couldn't hang on and wouldn't let go... though admittedly the British were slightly more gracious than some about accepting the obvious. I don't see how that can be blamed on FDR or the US.

I do think that one of the great American failings of the Cold War was allowing the communists to seize the moral high ground and historical momentum of opposition to fading empires and at least some of the post-colonial tinpot dictators. Swimming against the tide is rough work, and we paid (and are still paying) a price for that... but that came well after FDR.

JMA
05-17-2011, 08:07 AM
I'm not sure the USA was the sole or primary driving force behind the decolonization process... in most cases the colonies were going to break free no matter what the US did. The only colony the US had made a transition into (dysfunctional) democracy. I'm not at all sure that the US could ever have controlled the decolonization process or the form of postcolonial government for colonies of other countries.

Certainly decolonization was handled clumsily by the European powers, who generally couldn't hang on and wouldn't let go... though admittedly the British were slightly more gracious than some about accepting the obvious. I don't see how that can be blamed on FDR or the US.

I do think that one of the great American failings of the Cold War was allowing the communists to seize the moral high ground and historical momentum of opposition to fading empires and at least some of the post-colonial tinpot dictators. Swimming against the tide is rough work, and we paid (and are still paying) a price for that... but that came well after FDR.

Oh dear, is it a case of selective memory or just a lack of knowledge of the history of the US? Read up on the FDR days and how he set the ball rolling and then jump to 1960 when JFK discovered that certain actions/promises/etc were "worth a lot of negro votes".

The pretense that the US does not carry the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out is either a calculated deceit or a simple matter of denial.

Dayuhan
05-17-2011, 01:34 PM
Oh dear, is it a case of selective memory or just a lack of knowledge of the history of the US? Read up on the FDR days and how he set the ball rolling and then jump to 1960 when JFK discovered that certain actions/promises/etc were "worth a lot of negro votes".

Why do I suspect that we're about to embark on yet another round of exorbitant revisionism? Through History With JMA, or What the Americans Should Have Done If They Only Had a Ball.

Given that FDR was dead before decolonization was more than an abstract fantasy, it's hard to see how he got any balls rolling. Certainly nothing FDR said in the last days of his Presidency would have had much influence on what the Europeans actually did as it became clear that they were not going to be able to hold onto their "possessions".

Jumping from FDR to JFK would skip rather a lot, no?

I can fault the US for meekly allowing the restoration of empire in SE Asia, where they had dominant force and influence... especially with the French in Indochina and the Dutch in Indonesia. That would be hindsight speaking though, and it would be silly to think things were as clear at that time. In Africa the US had virtually no knowledge, experience, or exposure; difficult to see what FDR or Truman could have done to change the future.

The pretense that the US does not carry the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out is either a calculated deceit or a simple matter of denial.

I why wouldn't "the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out" rest with the colonial powere who were carrying it out... unless of course we start with the assumption that America is necessarily responsible for everything, everywhere, all the time?

Just for the sake of amusement, what do you think the leaders of post-WW2 America could or should have done, and how exactly would that have assured orderly decolonization?

JMA
05-18-2011, 07:22 AM
David, I understand and appreciate the decision to separate this aspect from the main thread.

While Stalin and Mao caused death and misery to millions within the geographical bounds of their countries and Hitler wreaked havoc across the areas where his armies invaded and occupied the legacy of FDR is more pernicious than any in that his actions led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot and if that were not enough his strong anti-colonial position led to an all too rapid race for and granting of self-determination among colonies which devastated virtually all of Africa leaving a legacy of death, destruction and misery still evident today.

The historical record is clear that the actions of FDR thrump the likes of Mao, Stalin and Hitler in the shear scale and breadth of the death, destruction and misery his policies and actions caused peoples and countries across the world.

I understand that the historical record with regard to FDR is not palatable to most Americans and that subsequently it has been "glossed over" or misrepresented to avoid the the kind of national angst Germany has suffered since WW2 but is it not time for the nation to face up to the truth and relegate this destructively failed statesman to the scrapheap of history... after all he deserves no better.

davidbfpo
05-18-2011, 09:30 AM
Whatever role FDR and other Americans played in the demise of empires IMHO it was to act as a catalyst, aided by a refusal to provide support for a revival after victory. The empires were exhausted by WW2, their national focus had always been on "home affairs", the colonies had a mixed profit/loss record and there was a massive loss of confidence. FDR just speeded things up, although it took sometime for the colonies to be disposed of.

India for the UK was 'the jewel in the crown' and after 1947 colonial policy was missed its central hub.

Nor must we be too UK-centric, others had colonies, notably France and the Netherlands. Portugal took longer - 1974 marking the end.

When I say 'other Americans' my recollection is limited. Were there not Americans in a variety of roles around the empires "doing their bit"? I recall there was an OSS mission with the Viet Minh in French Indo-China (in North Vietnam) and did they not advocate a handover to Ho Chi Minh?

I wonder what was the impact of seeing French colonial administration in North Africa? After Operation Torch the French remained in power and the USA used the area as a base for the Italian / South France campaign.

Bob's World
05-18-2011, 05:00 PM
The populaces of these countries were the true forcing function behind the end of Colonization. They will be the forcing function behind the end of Containment control measures as well.

Certainly Wilson called for the end of colonialism at Versailles, but the Allies thought him naieve and used the "self-determination" he promoted to justify their "stewardship" over the divided spoils of the Ottoman Empire. Just to help them get on their feet and all...

FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died, and at the war's end the US cut ties with nationalist allies such as Ho Chi Minh and Arab leaders in North Africa; and Europe was soon back in the colony business.

But that business was getting harder, because informed and connected populaces are more effective insurgents than those that are uninformed and disconnected. Also, insurgents with a state backer conducting UW are better than insurgents without such a backer. For every insurgency against a Western Colonial regime there was an automatic UW backer in the Sino-Soviet competition for influence (likewise both sides competed across the third world in either the UW or FID role depending on if they were seeking to maintain or create influence in a particular location/populace).

Before the US jumps up and takes too much credit for what the people accomplished, it is well to remember that our own Containment measures were/are nearly as disruptive of organic systems of legitmacy and soverignty as the Colonial model that went before it. Certainly we were more willing to allow our capital to transfer to the rest of the world than our colonial predecesors were, but that may prove to have been more foolish than generous.

In terms of governance disruption we still sowed the wind, and have reaped the whirlwind.

slapout9
05-18-2011, 05:21 PM
FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died, and at the war's end the US cut ties with nationalist allies such as Ho Chi Minh and Arab leaders in North Africa; and Europe was soon back in the colony business.



It wasn't just his death it was the Constitutional amendment that imposed term limits on the President but nobody else in Congress. It completely unbalanced the US as a system and shifted power to the Senate which has one main mission.....protect the elite establishment no matter who is in the WH.

Tukhachevskii
05-18-2011, 05:47 PM
FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died,


Er,...he was also instrumental in demanding Briaitn dismantle the system of Imeprial preference (the Imperial tarif bloc)- in other words an Open Door policy- before the US would back Britian. Ny cutting the remaing ties that bound the Colonies and Sel-Governing Dominions to the motherland the US was able to redirect those links by controlling the finaincal reins of a global capitalist order that it put in place. He also dmeanded that Chruchill sign the Atalantic Charter (ever heard of that) that stated that all states had the right to soviereignty or, in plainer words, that the US had a right to other states formerly under Imperial tutelage). Idealism pish tosh, naked self interest (and you can forget humanitarian liberal universalism...IIRC segregation was still law in many states of the Union)

Dayuhan
05-18-2011, 11:19 PM
Er,...he was also instrumental in demanding Briaitn dismantle the system of Imeprial preference (the Imperial tarif bloc)- in other words an Open Door policy- before the US would back Britian. Ny cutting the remaing ties that bound the Colonies and Sel-Governing Dominions to the motherland the US was able to redirect those links by controlling the finaincal reins of a global capitalist order that it put in place.

Given that the archaic closed-loop colonial trading systems effectively closed new rising powers out of trade and were largely responsible for triggering WW2 in the Pacific, this seems a not unreasonable demand. It probably seemed unreasonable to the old colonists, who were accustomed to imposing ridiculously one-sided trade terms on their "possessions", but then fair play always seems a drag to those accustomed to the benefits of unfair play.

He also dmeanded that Chruchill sign the Atalantic Charter (ever heard of that) that stated that all states had the right to soviereignty or, in plainer words, that the US had a right to other states formerly under Imperial tutelage). Idealism pish tosh, naked self interest (and you can forget humanitarian liberal universalism...IIRC segregation was still law in many states of the Union)

And exactly how many former colonies did the US establish sovereignty over?

"Imperial tutelage" my arse. Have a look at, say, the opium trade, the single most profitable commercial enterprise in British imperial history. An interesting form of "tutelage", that. The White Man's Burden was never more than romantic fiction, it was about making money.

In the wake of WW2 the old empires were dead. The subjects were no longer interested in subjection and the masters no longer had the power to impose it. That was clear to some, if not to all, as early as 1945. It was clear to all soon enough.

Dayuhan
05-18-2011, 11:43 PM
the legacy of FDR is more pernicious than any in that his actions led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot

What exactly did FDR do that "led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot"? Please don't refer to Yalta, because when that took place eastern Europe was already under the Soviet jackboot. I've no doubt that FDR hadf an excessively rosy view of Stalin and the Soviets, but whether a different view would have changed anything is very much open to question. Restricting lend-lease supplies during the war would have crippled the Soviet effort, but would have also made the Allied effort in Europe vastly more difficult; under the circumstances it's difficult to fault the decision to supply the Soviets. The US would not in any event have pushed forces farther into Europe than Germany, and once the Germans fell the Soviets would in all likelihood have pushed into eastern Europe anyway.

What exactly would you have wanted the US to do?

his strong anti-colonial position led to an all too rapid race for and granting of self-determination among colonies which devastated virtually all of Africa leaving a legacy of death, destruction and misery still evident today.

A truly remarakble and quite unsupportable position.

Yes, FDR was anti-colonial, a quite reasonable position. Yes, colonies fell after WW2. Can you cite any evidence to demonstrate that colonies fell because of FDR's anti-colonial position?

There's no way on earth that a colonial power that saw their colonies as a productive, profitable asset, desired to retain them, and had the capacity to retain them would suddenly leap up and decolonize because a dead American had expressed anti-colonial sentiments. None at all. The idea is too absurd to warrant consideration. The colonial powers divested because the colonies were no longer productive or profitable and they no longer had the capacity to retain them, not because of anything FDR said, thought, or did. He was a President, not God, he didn't the kind of influence that would compel powers to dispose of colonies long after his death.

Have you any evidence that establishes a causative link between FDRs opinions and subsequent colonial divestments?

Whether an extended colonial period would have made decolonization any easier or more orderly is another question. It's very much a debatable question, but since the colonial powers never had the capacity or (in many cases) the will to maintain the crumbling and anachronistic system, it's also an irrelevant question.

The historical record is clear that the actions of FDR thrump the likes of Mao, Stalin and Hitler in the shear scale and breadth of the death, destruction and misery his policies and actions caused peoples and countries across the world.

I understand that the historical record with regard to FDR is not palatable to most Americans and that subsequently it has been "glossed over" or misrepresented to avoid the the kind of national angst Germany has suffered since WW2 but is it not time for the nation to face up to the truth and relegate this destructively failed statesman to the scrapheap of history... after all he deserves no better.

Your interpretation of the historical record is clear. That's not exactly revealed truth, and given the pronounced absence of any supporting evidence it's not the most credible of positions either. The problem is less a lack of palatability than a lack of credibility.

If the US could go back and do thje cold war over again, knowing what we know now, There were numerous mistakes. One of them, IMO, was the failure to accept the momentum of history and take a more aggressively anti-colonial position. Too often we hitched our wagon to falling stars in the name of fighting communism; support for the French in Indochina is only the most egregious example. History doesn't afford the luxury of second chances, though, and the degree of blame that can be assigned to those who were neither omniscient nor clairvoyant is limited. Easy to look back and point out mistakes. Whether any of us could have done better in their shoes is doubtful.

I asked this before, and it wasn't answered:

Just for the sake of amusement, what do you think the leaders of post-WW2 America could or should have done, and how exactly would that have assured orderly decolonization?

Easy to criticize what was done; but what would you suggest as a practical alternative, even with the benefit of hindsight?

Dayuhan
05-19-2011, 01:14 AM
JMA,

You seem to suggest here that you would have liked to see the US liberate eastern Europe from the Soviet jackboot while simultaneously sustaining the colonized nations under the European jackboot. Am I reading that wrong, or is there a bit of contradiction there?

jmm99
05-19-2011, 04:28 AM
that is, those who elect to argue their somewhat unique views of history - with their lists of 100% totally unblemished heroes and 100% totally besmirched villains. I'm presently jumping back and forth between a half-dozen histories of the Vietnam War which fit that mold.

The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.

In any event, here is a syllabus (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/crossroads/aneher/warinsea_slbs.htm), Southeast Asia During World War II; and an accompanying handout (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/crossroads/aneher/warinsea_hndt.htm). These outlines are useful as a simple check of one's knowledge - how much don't I know about this limited regional topic and FDR ?

More particularly, and with reference to and quotes from many original documents, we have (among many other sources to the same FDR and HST periods), U.S. Policy & Indochina in World War II (http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/241/2410305026.pdf). One might well question the "FDR Effect" on such agreements as the following from March 6, 1946 (pp.18-19):

1. The French Government recognizes the Vietnamese Republic as a Free State having its own Government, its own Parliament, its own Army and its own Finances, forming part of the Indochinese Federation and of the French Union. In that which concerns the reuniting of the three "Annamite Regions" [Indochina, Annam, Tonkin] the French Government pledges itself to ratify the decisions taken by the populations consulted by referendum.

2. The Vietnamese Government declares itself ready to welcome amicably the French Army when, conforming to international agreements, it relieves the Chinese Troops. A Supplementary Accord, attached to the present Preliminary Agreement, will establish the means by which the relief operations will be carried out.

3. The stipulations formulated above will immediately enter into force. Immediately after the exchange of signatures, each of the High Contracting Parties will take all measures necessary to stop hostilities in the field, to maintain the troops in their respective positions, and to create the favorable atmosphere necessary to the immediate opening of friendly and sincere negotiations. These negotiations will deal particularly with:

a. diplomatic relations of Viet-nam with Foreign states

b. the future law of Indochina

c. French interests, economic and cultural, in Viet-nam.

Hanoi, Saigon or Paris may be chosen as the seat of the conference.

DONE AT HANOI, the 6th of March 1946

Signed: Sainteny

Signed: Ho-chi Minh and Vu Hong Khanh

By that time, FDR was almost a year dead; and Harry S. Truman had begun to shape his own initial policy toward Indochina, U.S. Neutrality in the Franco-Viet Minh War, 1946-1949 (http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/241/2410315002.pdf).

By 1950, HST's Worldview had shifted and we began what Bruce Palmer called our 25-Year War (1 May 1950 - 30 April 1975). As opposed to liberation from colonialism (a policy which the US did adopt re: Indonesia), our policy from 1950 constituted US support of what the Viet Minh were more than happy to call an alliance of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

The attitude of the War College Class of 1951-1952 was more "direct hands off" in Indochina than anything else.

War College Class 1951-1952, U.S. Policy in Sourheast Asia, Reports of Student Committees # 13-17 (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 1951), presented in October 1951. From Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25 Year War (http://www.amazon.com/25-Year-War-Americas-Military-Vietnam/dp/0813190363) (University Press of Kentucky, 1984), pp.2-3:

.... Although opinions were somewhat divided, a large majority opposed any major U.S. involvement. The conclusions of the majority could be summarized as follows:

(1) The United States had probably made a serious mistake in agreeing with its allies to allow French power to be restored in Indochina. As a colonial power, France had done little to develop indigenous civilian and military leaders and civil servants in preparation for the countries' eventual independence.

(2) Indochina was of only secondary strategic importance to the United States. The economic and military value of Vietnam, the most important state in the region, was not impressive. Politically and socially Vietnam was obviously entering an unstable period with uncertain consequences. In any event, it did not warrant the commitment of US forces to its defense.

(3) General war planning by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) envisioned a strategic defense in the Pacific, drawing the U.S. forward defense line to include Japan, South Korea, and the offshore island chain (Okinawa-Taiwan-the Philippines). But in Southeast Asia the line was drawn through the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland, excluding all of Indochina and most of Thailand. Thus, the Straits of Malacca and populous, endowed Indonesia were considered to be the prime strategic targets of the region.

(4) Militarily the region in general and Vietnam in particular would be an extremely difficult operational area, especially for U.S. forces. Unlike the relatively narrow Korean peninsula, Vietnam presented very long land and coastal borders that would be almost impossible to seal against infiltration and difficult to defend against overt military aggression. Much of the region was covered with dense jungle and much was mountainous. Weather, terrain and geographical factors combined to present formidable obstacles for military operations and logistic support.

(5) Politically and psychologically the United States, if it were to become involved, would have to operate under severe disadvantages, for it would inherit the taint of European colonialism. The United States should not become involved in the area beyond providing materiel military aid.

This view of these field grades (many to become flag officers) became lost in the shuffle as the US moved toward greater and greater direct involvement in Indochina - and then South Vietnam as a remnant. The focus on Southeast Asia (and the important Staits of Malacca and Indonesia) was similarly pushed into the background.

It was only after a decade passed after withdrawal of our combat units from Vietnam, that our emoticon Vietnam commander recognized that our efforts in Vietnam (however guided, misguided or mixed) had contributed to a Southeast Asia that was able to make its own way.

A Distant Challenge: The U.S. Infantryman in Vietnam, 1967-1972 (http://www.amazon.com/Distant-Challenge-Infantryman-Vietnam-1967-1972/dp/0515081078)
Infantry Magazine
LTC Albert N. Garland, USA (Ret.)

Foreward

Indeed, history may judge that American aid to South Vietnam constituted one of man's more noble crusades, one that had less to do with the domino theory and a strategic interest for the United States than with the simple equation of a strong nation helping an aspiring nation to reach a point where it had some reasonable chance to achieve and keep a degree of freedom and humanv dignity. It remains a fact that few countries have ever engaged in such idealistic magnanimity; and no gain or attempted gain for human freedom can be discounted.

Although in the end a political default, it is now clearly evident that there was an ironic strategic dividend to our presence in Vietnam; namely the impact of the American military "holding the line" for ten years against communist pressures on Southeast Asia thus provided for the Asian countries (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) a shield and hence a breathing spell toward development of greater political matrurity and self confidence as nations. It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world.

William C. Westmorland
April 1983

Attributing all that occured in this part of the World 30 years after FDR to FDR simply does not hold up to any reasonable historical test. An argument extending his influence as all powerful globally is more unreasonable.

Regards

Mike

Dayuhan
05-19-2011, 06:16 AM
The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.

In any event, here is a syllabus (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/crossroads/aneher/warinsea_slbs.htm), Southeast Asia During World War II; and an accompanying handout (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/crossroads/aneher/warinsea_hndt.htm). These outlines are useful as a simple check of one's knowledge - how much don't I know about this limited regional topic and FDR ?

Had to note the brief reference to a French request for US assistance to "resistance groups nor fighting the Japanese in Indo-China".

One of the best sources on Vietnam in this period is Archimedes Patti's Why Viet Nam. You can agree or disagree with his opinions, but there is a vast amount of data there, accurate timelines, detailed breakdowns of personalities and organization, and a wealt of other personal observation (Patti was the OSS officer handling liason with resistance groups.

Patti had a very low opinion of the French; concluded that they had no interest at all in fighting the Japanese and were only concerned with reasserting control after a Japanese defeat.

More particularly, and with reference to and quotes from many original documents, we have (among many other sources to the same FDR and HST periods), U.S. Policy & Indochina in World War II (http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/241/2410305026.pdf). One might well question the "FDR Effect" on such agreements as the following from March 6, 1946 (pp.18-19):

For some very odd reason I read "HST" as "Hunter S Thompson", producing a surreal moment.

Given what had already transpired, it's hard for me to believe that either party ever had any intention of actually following the agreed-upon course. Doubtless they had their own reasons for signing, but it's unlikely that the agreement was ever taken at face value. In any event, by November of that year the French were already shelling Haiphong.

Worth noting that without timely assistance from the British the French would not have been able to reassert control over Saigon.

I wish more people had listened to the War College Class 1951-1952.

This was a bit jarring:

Although in the end a political default, it is now clearly evident that there was an ironic strategic dividend to our presence in Vietnam; namely the impact of the American military "holding the line" for ten years against communist pressures on Southeast Asia thus provided for the Asian countries (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) a shield and hence a breathing spell toward development of greater political matrurity and self confidence as nations. It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world.

Many of these conclusions seem completely without basis, unless one assumes that the rest of Southeast Asia would have fallen like dominoes. I doubt that the US "holding the line" had any impact at all on the fortunes of Communist movements in the Philippine and Indonesia, which emerged as a response to local conditions. Thailand also had considerable resilience, provided by the absence of a detested colonial power for Communist organizers to build around.

The comment "encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians" rather notably fails to mention the slaughter of roughly half a million people under the banner of suppressing the Commies.

Attributing all that occured in this part of the World 30 years after FDR to FDR simply does not hold up to any reasonable historical test. An argument extending his influence as all powerful globally is more unreasonable.

I would attribute very little of what happened in SE Asia to FDRs influence... and still less in many other places. David's initial comments kind of sum it up:

several posts have appeared of late on the role of FDR (President Roosevelt) and the demise post-1956 of the mainly European empires

FDR would have had to be quite a remarkable individual to play a significant role in events that occurred 10 years after his death.

JMA
05-19-2011, 07:10 AM
JMA,

You seem to suggest here that you would have liked to see the US liberate eastern Europe from the Soviet jackboot while simultaneously sustaining the colonized nations under the European jackboot. Am I reading that wrong, or is there a bit of contradiction there?

An attempt at a cute soundbite?

JMA
05-19-2011, 07:19 AM
What exactly did FDR do that "led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot"? ... (trimmed for brevity)

Sorry, I am not going to get into a high school level debate with you over this matter. I merely suggest that you read up on the subject matter and educate yourself.

Dayuhan
05-19-2011, 07:29 AM
And I suggest that you either justify your claims with evidence or stop making them. Making bold unsupported proclamations and suggesting that anyone who doesn't buy them is somehow uninformed does not enhance credibility.

If you really want to believe that FDR had any realistically possible way of keeping the Soviets out of Eastern Europe, or that decolonization would have proceeded differently if FDR had said or thought things other than what he did, or that European jackboots over colonies are somehow different from Soviet jackboots over eastern Europe... well, that's your right. People believe stranger things, though not many. You really can't expect to publicly decree that those beliefs are true without having a few people asking you to support them.

JMA
05-19-2011, 07:42 AM
Given that the archaic closed-loop colonial trading systems effectively closed new rising powers out of trade and were largely responsible for triggering WW2 in the Pacific, this seems a not unreasonable demand. It probably seemed unreasonable to the old colonists, who were accustomed to imposing ridiculously one-sided trade terms on their "possessions", but then fair play always seems a drag to those accustomed to the benefits of unfair play.

And exactly how many former colonies did the US establish sovereignty over?

"Imperial tutelage" my arse. Have a look at, say, the opium trade, the single most profitable commercial enterprise in British imperial history. An interesting form of "tutelage", that. The White Man's Burden was never more than romantic fiction, it was about making money.

In the wake of WW2 the old empires were dead. The subjects were no longer interested in subjection and the masters no longer had the power to impose it. That was clear to some, if not to all, as early as 1945. It was clear to all soon enough.

Pssst... you have obviously never heard of the Atlantic Charter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Charter)

JMA
05-19-2011, 08:16 AM
The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.


Mike, this is exactly the problem.

It would of course be less of a problem if a succession of "most powerful men in the world" (aka US Presidents) did not dabble in foreign affairs as if it was a matter of little consequence.

There is sadly nothing the world can do about this as successive US Administrations continue to display mind-blowing levels of know-it-all arrogance.

We now have another 40 something President who like an earlier one proved to be incompetent and inept until in the former case the world was taken to the edge of a nuclear war when he suddenly grew some spine. What it will take the current version to grow some spine one cannot tell (though some hope the OBL decision may herald a change in that regard).

You want to get really depressed? Then draw up a list of US foreign policy successes and failures since, say, 1945 and then weep.

All that said, an incompetent US remains more desirable than say Russia or China in the driving seat IMHO... sadly I believe that I am in a shrinking minority in this regard.

Dayuhan
05-19-2011, 11:13 AM
Pssst... you have obviously never heard of the Atlantic Charter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Charter)

I have. What of it? Surely you're not going to maintain that any colonial power anywhere, least of all the British, rushed to divest colonies purely in observance of the Atlantic Charter.

Churchill, in the spirit and tradition of Perfidious Albion, would have gladly agreed to any postwar disposition necessary to sustain American aid. You can't possibly think he or the other colonial rulers ever intended to keep any of those promises, or that successive governments of colonial powers ever considered them binding.

Tukhachevskii
05-19-2011, 12:00 PM
Given that the archaic closed-loop colonial trading systems effectively closed new rising powers out of trade and were largely responsible for triggering WW2 in the Pacific, this seems a not unreasonable demand.
I'll think you'll find that US foriegn policy was much more fundamental in its effects upon Japanese decision making than any of the Euroepan perial blocs.

It probably seemed unreasonable to the old colonists, who were accustomed to imposing ridiculously one-sided trade terms on their "possessions", but then fair play always seems a drag to those accustomed to the benefits of unfair play.
m, actually, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were largely the benficiaries of massive direct and indirect investment emanting from London. The dominions were quite happy with that relationship to the metropole given that they were able to exert local and domestic (limited) soveriegnty. Had WWII not occured, however, I am sure that the move from Empire to a more rubust Commonwealth would have been inevitable. De-colonisation, however, isa loaded term (it assumes that "subject peoples" had a pre-existing political identity that was being supressed whereas in many cases- take India for instance- what "national identity" they had had been inculcated in them by Britian ("India" was a British creation). As for Africa, Mntgommery himself stated that the African "states" in the empire would need a period of tutelage before they were ready to stand on their own two feet (i.e., attain self-government). WWII cut that educational process off and with the former imperial captials of Europe now deeply indebted to the US and enmeshed in the Marshall Plan (and thus thrall to its demands) there wasn't much Eurpoe could do but let the US enter those markets and their own (De Gaulle and Gaullism is partly a response to that situation as is Willy randts Ostpolotik to a degree).

And exactly how many former colonies did the US establish sovereignty over?
Sir, I've obviously touched a nerve (thought only JMA could accomplish that:D). There are many different kinds of "imperial" system as you well know. My use of that phrase was polemical (this medium unfortunatly restricts nuance). As an example take the League of Nations. The US didn't sit on it but that didn't matter given its Latin American "fraternal brothers" did (invisible empire is the hallmark of capitalism -but please don't think me a Marxist!)

"Imperial tutelage" my arse. Have a look at, say, the opium trade, the single most profitable commercial enterprise in British imperial history. An interesting form of "tutelage", that. The White Man's Burden was never more than romantic fiction, it was about making money.
We are in agreement here. Check what I wrote and notice the statement regarding "self-interest" as opposed to liberal universalist values (of which the notion "White" Man's Burden was a progenitor). Conversely, the pium Tade is really a good argument given that Britian and the other European powers didn't incorporate China into their political systems (largely through Chinese shrewdness; hat tip to them). Bt Europe didn't invent empire (as carl Schmitt argued once); the people Europe "subjugated" weren't some Rousseaean perfect "savages" either; ritian, after all, stopped the slave trade in Africa (but we're getting away from the issue)

In the wake of WW2 the old empires were dead. The subjects were no longer interested in subjection and the masters no longer had the power to impose it. That was clear to some, if not to all, as early as 1945. It was clear to all soon enough.
That's a pretty blanket statement that I don't think applies as universally as you think. The death of Empire was foretold after WWI too yet reality turned out differently. As for willpower and the power to impose it France didn't seem to notice the conditions you're talking about until after they were defeated (i.e., the idea of Empire wasn't dead until proved at dien ben phu and Algeirs). Had France won in Vietnam who knows what the outcome would have been but certainly US rheoric about "freedom" certainly helpd the moral cause of the Viet Minh for instance as did Soviet propaganda (and lets not forget them!). Australian foriegn policy only became pro-US in orientation once it was clear that the homeland was exhuasted and hegemony had passed to the US. There were plenty of people in various colonies that wanted things to stay much that same; the usage of an Us/Them formula is misleading.

jmm99
05-19-2011, 06:05 PM
Archimedes Patti's "Why Viet Nam" was one of the half-dozen histories of the Vietnam War of which I wrote as fitting "that mold" ("100% totally unblemished heroes and 100% totally besmirched villains").

But then, I also feel that US foreign policy since WWII, from the Worldviews of Dutchess County or Houghton County, has been more successful than unsuccessful. US foreign trade policy is another kettle of fish (Shanghai Smelt, anyone).

Oh well, reasonable persons can differ.

Regards

Mike

Dayuhan
05-19-2011, 10:49 PM
Archimedes Patti's "Why Viet Nam" was one of the half-dozen histories of the Vietnam War of which I wrote as fitting "that mold" ("100% totally unblemished heroes and 100% totally besmirched villains").

But then, I also feel that US foreign policy since WWII, from the Worldviews of Dutchess County or Houghton County, has been more successful than unsuccessful. US foreign trade policy is another kettle of fish (Shanghai Smelt, anyone).

Oh well, reasonable persons can differ.

Regards

Mike

As I said, Patti has his opinions, often strong ones, and they can be taken or left. What I like about the book is the level of detail in the chronologies and the reviews of competing personalities and organizations: the appendices alone are worth the price of the book. Also the fact that he was actually there, on the spot, at that time. That often doesn't confer dispassionate distance: it's difficult to be... well, "fair and balanced", to quote a phrase, about events you're personally involved in, but it also lends an essential perspective that is hard to get from secondary sources.

Certainly his frustration with the French was quite evident, but that wasn't without reason... it wasn't a place or period in which the French gave a notably good account of themselves.

davidbfpo
05-19-2011, 11:09 PM
I've read a couple of books on the First Indo-China War and found it startling that the French were able to return a small military force to Saigon, in October 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered to a British Indian division, under General Gracey, in September 1945. This altered the facts on the ground between the non-French civil administration (nationalist & communist Viet Minh) and the French who sought a return as a colonial power.

That is a very short summary and my point is not what happened in Saigon, but the ability of the French to move a military force from Europe by sea there. This was a France dependent on Allied assistance, mainly from the USA; involved shipping - not in available in great abundance from France herself I suspect and money somewhere.

What an opportunity missed?

The British would have left and who knows who in place as government. Aside, in fact the division then went to Java, part of the Netherlands East Indies, to a similar situation and the most intense, bloody fighting of its war.

Not to overlook that what became North Vietnam after the Japanese surrender was occupied by the Nationalist Chinese (which was hated by the locals) and they left to be replaced by the French.

Dayuhan
05-20-2011, 12:04 AM
I'll think you'll find that US foriegn policy was much more fundamental in its effects upon Japanese decision making than any of the Euroepan perial blocs.

I've read various opinions on that question, and they often seem to have more to do with the opinion of the historian than with any actual assessment of Japanese motives. Obviously there were multiple factors involved, and I don't think we can fully assess their respective impact on Japanese decisions.

Japan was a rising industrial power, almost devoid of natural resources. With regional resources largely locked up in closed-loop colonial trade, and with China rapidly being sliced up by the west, the threat of being locked out by potential resource suppliers and starved of raw material was certainly there.

It's worth noting that post-war Japan prospered in a more open trading system. They were able to buy copper, nickel, tin, rubber, oil and other raw materials from SE Asia; they had no need to conquer to get what they needed. Could they have done that without the dissolution of the colonial trading system?

actually, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were largely the beneficiaries of massive direct and indirect investment emanting from London. The dominions were quite happy with that relationship to the metropole given that they were able to exert local and domestic (limited) soveriegnty.

Ah yes, those colonies. Apples and oranges, really: the small number of colonies in which the native population was eliminated or suppressed completely and the colonizers became the "colonized populace" are difficult to compare to colonies where the colonized populace was indigenous and the colonizers simply ruled. The two types went through very different decolonization processes, for obvious reasons, and need to be treated as different things.

Had WWII not occurred, however, I am sure that the move from Empire to a more rubust Commonwealth would have been inevitable.

Possibly so, but it's also likely that many of the colonized parties might have wanted to break away from that Commonwealth. It's actually very difficult to know what would have happened if WW2 had not occurred, and any such construction is by necessity very speculative indeed.

De-colonisation, however, isa loaded term (it assumes that "subject peoples" had a pre-existing political identity that was being supressed whereas in many cases- take India for instance- what "national identity" they had had been inculcated in them by Britian ("India" was a British creation).

Why would de-colonization assume a prior political identity? Are you suggesting that people with no prior large-scale political identity can legitimately be occupied and ruled by foreign forces against their will? Whether political identity emerged pre or post colonization seems quite irrelevant to any question of self-determination... and in point of practical fact, if the populace is trying to kick the colonizers out and the colonizers haven't the resources to continue suppressing them, whether the political identity behind resistance emerged before or after colonization is of little moment. Resistance to foreign occupation is often a unifying factor.

As for Africa, Mntgommery himself stated that the African "states" in the empire would need a period of tutelage before they were ready to stand on their own two feet (i.e., attain self-government). WWII cut that educational process off and with the former imperial captials of Europe now deeply indebted to the US and enmeshed in the Marshall Plan (and thus thrall to its demands) there wasn't much Eurpoe could do but let the US enter those markets and their own (De Gaulle and Gaullism is partly a response to that situation as is Willy randts Ostpolotik to a degree).

What "educational process" would that have been? Was there really any educating going on? Despite all the rhetoric about tutelage and the white man's burden, evidence suggests that there wasn't much. It's easy to note that after 75 odd years of high-minded and noble Belgian tutelage the Congo was not exactly ready for self-government in 1960, but difficult to maintain that another 10 or 20 or 50 years would have made much difference. It was never about tutelage in the first place: colonies wee meant to generate profit, not to enlighten anyone or prepare them for self-governance.

How would "letting the US into those markets and their own" have hurt either to colonies or the home countries, even to the limited extent to which the US penetrated the markets of the remaining colonies? The old mercantile system hadn't worked well for anyone but the owners of the colonies, and desperately needed to go. It should be noted that free trade has not only benefited the US: it's allowed many other nations, both from the old powers and from new ones, to rise and prosper. A huge improvement, it would seem to me. Hard to imagine anyone but a bunch of bloated whining Colonel Blimp characters in decaying London clubs bemoaning the demise of the colonial economic system.

There are many different kinds of "imperial" system as you well know. My use of that phrase was polemical (this medium unfortunatly restricts nuance). As an example take the League of Nations. The US didn't sit on it but that didn't matter given its Latin American "fraternal brothers" did (invisible empire is the hallmark of capitalism -but please don't think me a Marxist!)

Disagree. The word "empire" has a meaning. It's a quite specific meaning.

noun

1 an extensive group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state: :[I]the Roman Empire
[mass noun] supreme political power over several countries when exercised by a single authority:he encouraged the Greeks in their dream of empire in Asia Minor

OED. QED.

An empire requires direct rule, supreme political power. Without that it isn't an empire. It may be something else, a sphere of influence or what have you, but it isn't an empire. Take away a word's meaning and it means nothing at all. Respect the word.

If there has been an "American empire" at any time since WW2, what were its constituent parts? Whom did the US rule? Over whom did they exercise supreme political power?

Again, the post-war political order did not only benefit the US. Many others prospered, notably Germany and Japan. If the old colonial powers failed to adjust, that has to be attributed to their own inability to adapt to change, not to the long-overdue demise of their old colonial crutch.

Bt Europe didn't invent empire (as carl Schmitt argued once); the people Europe "subjugated" weren't some Rousseaean perfect "savages" either

Of course not; nobody said they were. Neither were the colonizers some sort of Kiplingesque heroes sacrificing themselves to bring enlightenment to the "lesser breeds without the law". Romantic fiction runs deep in both directions. Colonization was about finding someone weak enough to kick around, kicking them around, and harnessing their human and material resources for your own benefit.

As for willpower and the power to impose it France didn't seem to notice the conditions you're talking about until after they were defeated (i.e., the idea of Empire wasn't dead until proved at dien ben phu and Algeirs). Had France won in Vietnam who knows what the outcome would have been but certainly US rheoric about "freedom" certainly helpd the moral cause of the Viet Minh for instance as did Soviet propaganda (and lets not forget them!).

Of course... that's another item demonstrating the irrelevance of the Atlantic Charter. Despite that document, the colonial powers emerged from WW2 determined to reclaim their empire. In 1945 a few people were suggesting that wouldn't be possible. By 1955 it was becoming painfully obvious. By 1965 it was largely done. None of the colonists really accepted that reality until it kicked them in the face.

The Soviets were smart enough to leap on the anti-colonial bandwagon and use it to expand their influence. If you want to play "if"... what could have happened if the US had done that first?

There were plenty of people in various colonies that wanted things to stay much that same; the usage of an Us/Them formula is misleading.

Certainly there were people who found the prior disposition personally advantageous, and supported it. For the most part they were outnumbered and swept before the tide.

It's easy to speculate that a different approach by someone, somewhere, might have changed the course that the collapse of colonial empires took. Any such speculation is... well, speculative, and we don't know where the road not taken would have led. Likely to an only slightly different form of mess: collapse is by nature a sloppy process.

Barton
05-20-2011, 02:23 AM
There seems to be a lot of hot discussion on this tiopic, so lets start from the begining. In 1940 the United States wanted a series of rights in Britain's Carribean colonies in return for a number of obsolete American tin can destroyers. It can be argued that FDR and is progressive Demnocratic party saw Britains empire as inherently evil. Some of this view is a natural conclusion drawn from America's birth in the American revolution or rebellion depending on your point of view.
As a Canadian I also saw some Canadians (such as Prime Minister King saw this as a time to escape from the Britrish. King worked in the Unitewd States as their ideal. King went to several American universities and wsork for a time within the American civil service before returning to Canada.
FDR saw Britain's condition during the Second World War as a advantage to crack open the Pound`s trading sphere. Ignoring the fact that the America`s dollar sphere was based on the same operating system the American diplomatic corps pushed for the desolution of Britain`s trading system And Britain was in no position to fight the USA oin this. By the end of the war Britain was drained of most of her financial resources. Britain had told the US that she coundn`t support any longer the anti-cxommunist forces in Greece and that the United States had to fill in her place.
As for the United States abandoning east European peopler there coundn`t be anyway around it. Churchill place a sheet before Stalin showing the spheres of diplomatic domination. To quote a modern statement the Soviets had boots on the ground and there was very little that the United Kingdom and the United States could short of full war. Both theb UK and thew US sent in small military teams with little effect showing except the killing of these teams by oviet forces.
FDR was anti-imperialist to his core and tried to bind the UK ninto the dismantalling of the British Empire. He was assisted after this death by Britain`s Labour Party. Labour wanted out of India as soon as possible. So Britain pulled out of India with disasterous effects. Britain allowed for the dismantalling of Greater India with the creation of Pakistan. The British threw in their cards and left the scene. Those Labour ministers were never held to account for the results of their actions. British actions led to untold numbers of dead and the the movement of masses of people during the midnight hour.The effects of this is still with us today. Pakistan was meant to be a secular state instead of what it is today. I suspect Pakistan`s founding father is spinning in his grave considering what happened to his creation.
All in all the decolonisation of the British Empire is complex affair ands what has been stated above is very simple. The dismantling of Britain's African Empire is another chapter and the French and Dutch Empires have not been discussed at all.

jmm99
05-20-2011, 03:39 AM
Here is the version from Louis Allen, The End of the War in Asia (http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/241/2410307010.pdf). London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1976. Book One, "The Japanese Surrender in South-East Asia," Chapter 4, "French Indo-China," pp. 96-129, placed online in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University.

De Gaulle planned on a 3 division corps for Indochina, but that was not to be - at least not at once (p.7 pdf):

But demobilization after the defeat of Germany so reduced the ranks of these divisions that they had to be combined. Besides, there seemed to be no way of transporting them to the Far East. French shipping was under the control of the Allied Shipping Pool and could not be released. The only unit actually present in Mountbatten's command was the 5th Colonial Infantry Regiment, itself only a battalion strong, under Colonel Huard. A Senegalese brigade was awaiting orders in Madagascar.

Unfortunately for French military plans, the natives were growing restless in Madgascar and their later 1947 Malagasy Uprising (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malagasy_Uprising) tied up many more French troops (primarily North African units) that otherwise could have been used in 1947-1948 Indochina.

That is getting well ahead of the story. The BLUF is that the US left Thailand and South Indochina to the British (Mountbatten) (p.18 pdf):

... headquarters was set up in Saigon under Major-General Douglas Gracey, GOC, 20th Indian Division. A brigade of this division had begun its fly-in on 15 September, and along with it Mountbatten established an Air Headquarters, with two RAF tactical squadrons, and a Naval Port Party.

Following Petri's Appendix I (p.455), 12 Sep 1945 saw the Saigon fly-in of the initial advance elements of the 20th Indian Div.; and also initial advance elements of the Huard Bn of the 5th Colonial Infantry Regiment (Troupes de Marine). The main body of the 5th RIC did not debark in Saigon until 3 Oct 1945 (Petri, p.455).

The latter weeks of September saw more chaos (p.21 pdf)

Meanwhile, events had gone much further than a mere proclamation. Gracey had permitted the French forces in Saigon to carry out their own coup d'etat. His troops took over the Saigon gaol and freed French paratroops who had been imprisoned by the Vietnamese. At Cedile's request, he allowed the men of the 11th Colonial Infantry Division, who had been under [Japanese] guard in their barracks since 9 March, to be rearmed and to leave the barracks. These French troops, about fifteen hundred of them, were spoiling for a fight, and went out into the streets to throw their weight about against the Annamite population. ... He [Gracey] ordered the 11th Colonial Infantry Division to return to their barracks and be disarmed. The Japanese command was given full responsibility for maintaining order.

The Japanese were indifferent to that task (pp.21, 22):

Order was the first casualty of the next phase in Saigon. The electricity generating station was attacked by Vietnamese on 24 September, and dozens of Frenchmen were kidnapped or killed in the port area. The next day, there was a massacre in the Tan Dinh suburb: three hundred French men, women, and children were abducted, of whom half were killed in atrocious circumstances. This happened in the space of two hours, while Japanese sentries stood by, idle and indifferent.

Colonel Peter Dewey of the OSS was driving to the Saigon airfield on 26 September when his jeep was attacked. He realized the Vietnamese had taken him for a Frenchman, and cried out 'Je suis Americain', but it was too late. His body was removed by the Vietnamese before Allied troops could rescue it.
...
It was in this atmosphere that France's two highest officials in Asia came on the scene. Leclerc landed in Saigon on 5 October, and the High Commissioner, Thierry d' Argenlieu, arrived on 30 October.
...
Leclerc had remained in Kandy until sufficient French forces were available for him to act effectively in Saigon. With the arrival of elements of the 2nd Armoured Division, and the presence in Saigon River of the chastened Richelieu, Leclerc began to take over from Gracey the responsibility for government and for disarming the Japanese. The 20th Indian Division packed its bags in January 1946, and on 1 March, with the approval of the combined chiefs of staff, IndoChina was withdrawn from South-East Asia Command.


The battleship Richelieu and its escort vessels had been operating under US command in the PTO.

Regards

Mike

jmm99
05-20-2011, 06:58 AM
From Patti (I typed "Petri" in the post above :o), p.298, the 12 Sep 1945 fly-in was from Rangoon to Ton Son Nhut (Saigon) and involved Gurhkas, a Bn of the 15th Cav. Regt., 20th Indian Div.; and one company of the 5th RIC (Regiment d'Infanterie Colonial).

Patti devotes a chapter (Chap 32, "South of the 16th Parallel", pp.307-325) to the events of later September and early October 1945 in Saigon. One correction to Allen's book is that the barracks housing French prisoners was that of the 11th RIC (regiment, not a division), and that most of the prisoners were Legionaires and not Colonial Infantry (Patti p.316-317). The main body of the 5th RIC (roughly a 1000 men) arrived on 3 Oct 1945 on the French warship Triomphant (Patti, p.325). The Triomphant on 3 Oct 1945 was captained by Andre Jubelin (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Jubelin).

The battleship Richelieu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_battleship_Richelieu) was under British fleet command in 1944-1945 (pre-VJ Day), and was not under US fleet command (as stated by Fall in his Two Viet Nams, p.67). From the Wiki:

After V-J Day, during the last four months of 1945, Richelieu took part in the return of French forces to Indochina, particuliarly at Nha Trang, with her Fusiliers Marins landing party, and delivering gun support. When Richelieu left for France, the crew received congratulations from General Leclerc, the French Commanding General in Indochina.

Besides the French warships Triomphant and Richelieu, the Dutch-British troop transports, Queen Emma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Queen_Emma#Indian_Ocean) and Princess Beatrix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Princess_Beatrix#Indian_Ocean), hauled French troops into Saigon in October 1945.

Indian Ocean

Queen Emma was decommissioned to be adapted for service in tropical waters at Harland & Wolff at Belfast. The works were completed on 29 March 1945, and on 5 May Queen Emma sailed with Convoy KMF-44 for India, arriving at Bombay on the 26th. Queen Emma remained in India until the Japanese surrender in August. She then took part in Operation Jurist - the reoccupation of Penang by British Marines.[2]

She then embarked French troops, and escorted by the French battleship Richelieu, sailed to Saigon. On the return trip, Queen Emma was damaged by an acoustic mine. Her main engines were knocked out and the ship had to be towed. However, emergency repairs were made and she reached Singapore under her own power.[2]

After this Queen Emma transported Dutch women and children from Japanese concentration camps, and took British troops to Batavia, Semarang and Soerabaja.[2]

and:

Indian Ocean

Princess Beatrix operated for a time between the Clyde, Avonmouth and Liverpool before she was decommissioned to be adapted for service in tropical waters at D & W Henderson Ltd., Glasgow. She then sailed to the Indian Ocean, arriving at Trincomalee on 15 July 1945. A few days after the Japanese surrender she then took part in "Operation Jurist" - the reoccupation of Penang by British Marines.[2]

Princess Beatrix then acted as troop transport, sailing to Colombo, and taking French troops to Saigon. On 29 September [JMM: this date doesn't jibe] the ship entered the port of Tanjung Priok to take Dutch women and children from Japanese concentration camps. In early January 1946 she was ordered to return home, arriving at Portsmouth on 15 February.[2]

The Wiki source is the Service History M/v Prinses Beatrix and Koningin Emma 1939 - 1968 (http://sites.google.com/site/hmsprincessbeatrix/scratch-built-model-of-hms-princess-beatrix/service-history-m-v-prinses-beatrix-and-koningin-emma-1939---1968). Each ship could carry up to 2000 troops - although the service history does not tell us the number of French troops carried to Saigon:

Via Gibraltar, Port Said, Suez and Aden, the port of Bombay was reached on May 26. First a few trips were made to Trincomalee and a few days after the Japanese had capitulated Emma and her sister ship Beatrix, just arrived, were made part of the operation Jurist the occupation of Penang by the British Marines. Here the British flag was raised and order restored. It had been a long time since the two Dutch ships had worked together. After this sail was set for Trincomalee, where French troops had to [be] embarked, under escort of the mighty French Battleship Richelieu, to Saigon.

The conclusion seems to be that the movement of French forces to Saigon in September and October 1945 was an example of British-French co-operation by air and sea (and two Dutch transports). An interesting little puzzle to solve (after a false start or two - Vietnam War I and II history is a bit of a minefield).

Regards

Mike

Dayuhan
05-20-2011, 09:02 AM
The role played by the British in general and Gracey in particular in facilitating the re-establishment of French control in the south (particularly in the re-arming of French POWs), is often overlooked. The British clearly didn't want to see an precedent of independence being established, which suggests that they really weren't modelling their plans on the Atlantic Charter.

JMA
05-20-2011, 09:24 AM
If I may pick and choose from your post:

In 1940 the United States wanted a series of rights in Britain's Carribean colonies in return for a number of obsolete American tin can destroyers.

It can be argued that FDR and is progressive Demnocratic party saw Britains empire as inherently evil.

FDR saw Britain's condition during the Second World War as a advantage to crack open the Pound`s trading sphere.

FDR was anti-imperialist to his core and tried to bind the UK ninto the dismantalling of the British Empire.

... Britain pulled out of India with disasterous effects. ...All in all the decolonisation of the British Empire is complex affair

I just wanted to summarize what you said to indicate that we are largely in agreement over the attitude of FDR towards screwing the Brits for economic advantage... and too hell with the consequences.

davidbfpo
05-20-2011, 09:44 AM
JMM,

Thank you for the details of transporting the French.

My main "bible' on the period is 'The First Vietnam War' by Peter M. Dunn (Pub. 1985:http://www.amazon.com/First-Vietnam-War-Peter-Dunn/dp/0312293143/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305879757&sr=1-4 which has no review easily located.

JMA
05-20-2011, 10:20 AM
As for the United States abandoning east European peopler there coundn`t be anyway around it.

No agreement here. Read up on the Tehran Conference and note that a "sick" FDR was prepared to concede just about anything to Stalin just to get him to the conference and once Stalin was there he got what he wanted. Churchill's plan of an invasion through the Mediterranean was ignored. FDR sided with Stalin.

Note: Khrushchev was to later apply similar pressure on a weak 40 something President (also apparently ill at the time) at the Vienna Summit (1961) where the weakness of Kennedy led to the Soviet's pushing their luck in what led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Dayuhan
05-20-2011, 10:24 AM
I just wanted to summarize what you said to indicate that we are largely in agreement over the attitude of FDR towards screwing the Brits for economic advantage... and too hell with the consequences.

We've yet to see anything beyond very speculative evidence that FDR or the US actually succeeded in "screwing the Brits for economic advantage", or in fact that any US policy had any significant impact on the breakup of the British Empire.

Why would we need to speculate over a US impact that is anything but self-evident when so many very reasonable causes are right in front of us? Colonies were far more expensive to maintain in the face of growing resistance to colonial rule, the military force needed to sustain them was no longer available, and anti-imperial sentiment was growing on the home front... what more do you need? Nobody needs an outside influence to encourage them to dispose of colonies that are losing money and requiring unavailable military force to protect from a populace that no longer wants to be colonized, especially when the home-front electorate's interest in maintaining empire is rapidly evaporating.

US influence was really not required to "crack open the pound's trading sphere". The British no longer had the capacity to sustain it, so it collapsed, from within. Others naturally took advantage, and helped the trend along as they could, but the core cause was the lack of capacity and will on the British side combined with a rapidly expanding desire on the part of the colonies to break free of an arrangement that was set up to benefit the British at their expense. Why would any of the colonies have wanted to continue as a part of that sphere? Not like it was doing them any good...

There's really no evidence to suggest that US economic intrusion played a role in Indian independence. How much of the India trade actually moved to the US between 1945 and Indian independence in 1947? It's not about what was said or agreed, but about the actual economic impact, and there's little evidence that it was significant in any way, certainly not compared to a surge of strikes, riots, and mutinies that the British lacked the capacity and will to suppress.

JMA
05-20-2011, 11:43 AM
We've yet to see anything beyond very speculative evidence that FDR or the US actually succeeded in "screwing the Brits for economic advantage", or in fact that any US policy had any significant impact on the breakup of the British Empire.

Sorry, can't help you.

I suggest that you embark on a journey of research to lift the scales from your eyes in this regard. Won't be a pleasant journey to be sure but I assure you that you will be wiser in the end. That surely would make the whole exercise worthwhile... yes?

Bob's World
05-20-2011, 12:02 PM
To provide some supporting fires to one of Dayuhan's points:

FDR was absolutely against colonialism (though much of that was his hate of the way it served to exclude the US from participating in rich markets. During WWII FDR met with the leaders of Tunisia, Morocco, etc and sold "democracy" and "self-determination" to an audience buying "liberty" while Churchill sat there and stewed (no booze at the dinner may have been his chief complaint). FDR also went in great detail about the value of doing business with the US...

So, when colonialism expired at the end of WWII as we were calling for that to happen; there were also long suppressed populaces newly empowered by a modern info age standing up and making the cost exceed the benefit of such arrangements.

Similarly, at the end of the Cold War while Reagan called for the Wall to be torn down by Gorby, at the same time it was the empowered populaces of that info age that also actually brought down another empire that was no longer cost viable.

It is like if I had my kid say "abracadabra" while I push the button on my remote control. He may well think it is the power of his word that makes the channels change or the garage door open. The truth is another matter.

Dayuhan
05-20-2011, 12:15 PM
Sorry, can't help you.

I suggest that you embark on a journey of research to lift the scales from your eyes in this regard. Won't be a pleasant journey to be sure but I assure you that you will be wiser in the end. That surely would make the whole exercise worthwhile... yes?

Ever the resort of those who can't or won't support their arguments... "learn more and you will come around to the exalted Truth which I alone purvey". Have you considered starting a religion? That's a style that prevails in that field of endeavour, but it hasn't much place in the realm of rational discourse.

Suppose I were to say the same thing? Where would that get us? How difficult would it be for me to suggest that you embark on a journey of discovery and understand that your cherished construct is in fact an insubstantial mirage?

Since you were the one that maintained that FDR had a direct influence of the course of decolonization, isn't it up to you to support that rather improbable assertion?

Backwards Observer
05-20-2011, 12:38 PM
I'm sorry, but who the hell is this "FDR" that everyone keeps talking about?

davidbfpo
05-20-2011, 01:00 PM
I'm sorry, but who the hell is this "FDR" that everyone keeps talking about?

For once a non-US military abbreviation has led to a pause and so :wry: FDR is US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. More on:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt

I am sure you are not confused by the use of SDR, a very different matter.

Backwards Observer
05-20-2011, 01:11 PM
FDR is US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Oh, right. Okay thanks. The mission school i went to only had one book, an old copy of The Good Earth by PSB (Pearl S. Buck), and it was missing the last hundred pages. Pray continue.

Steve Blair
05-20-2011, 02:22 PM
Why don't we just blame those nasty Europeans for setting up messy empires in the first place and not bothering to figure out an exit strategy?:wry:

But I forgot...that would interfere with the meme...the U.S. is responsible for everything.

Bob's World
05-20-2011, 03:43 PM
Steve,

You know the old adage, "if you are in charge of everything, you are responsible for everything."

I don't recall anyone putting the US in charge, that is a claim we have made for ourselves. The fact that implied responsiblity comes along with that is unavoidable.

The best cure is to not set oneself up as "being in charge of everything" to begin with. This brings us back to FDR. Yes, he indeed called for an end to Colonialism, and that did not play well with his Euro buddies. But I am sure that Chruchill choked on his cigar smoke and spit scotch when FDR laid his concept of "The Four Policemen" on him. This was a plan for the League of Nations to be replaced following the war by a coaltion of the US, Russia, China and the UK to share responsibilities for maintaining security around the globe.

Of course, we all know how that played out. After WWI UK, France and the US remained competitiors, but on (relatively) friendly terms, as they divied up the spoils of conquest. Following WWII these "four policemen" broke quickly into two camps, resulting in what we like to call "The Cold War."

It is a concept with some merit though, and perhaps the number is more like 6 and India and Brazil join the mix....

(But don't jump up and beat your chest proclaming "I'm in charge!!" and not expect to be held responsible when something breaks or goes wrong)

Steve Blair
05-20-2011, 04:11 PM
Bob,

Not my point, really. I was making a sarcastic observation about the tendency to start many historical conversations in the middle of the scenario to "prove" someone's point.

FDR called for many things...many of which were either not practical or ill-advised (or downright stupid). But he wasn't the only leader who made such errors during that time (soft underbelly of Europe, anyone?). And he had precious little (if anything) to do with dysfunctional borders in Africa, tribal divisions created or exploited to maintain control, or brutal (or ignorant) colonial administration.

Blaming FDR and/or the US is convenient, but it steadfastly ignores many realities that he/the US had nothing or little to do with creating. Wilson, if I remember correctly, also tried to proclaim the end of colonialism.

But whatever, right? Carry on....

jmm99
05-20-2011, 04:29 PM
The empires (British, French and Dutch) did end in SE Asia and South Asia. Ah, an end to colonialism and imperialism. The US became the major non-communist player.

It took over that role (if we take the Worldview of what its spokesmen said, wrote and presumably believed) for the most noble of reasons (e.g., GEN Westmoreland was only one of many Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson era spokesmen who sang the same song):

Indeed, history may judge that American aid to South Vietnam constituted one of man's more noble crusades, one that had less to do with the domino theory and a strategic interest for the United States than with the simple equation of a strong nation helping an aspiring nation to reach a point where it had some reasonable chance to achieve and keep a degree of freedom and human dignity. It remains a fact that few countries have ever engaged in such idealistic magnanimity; and no gain or attempted gain for human freedom can be discounted.

(link in post #13 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=121293&postcount=13)). That perception fit the Worldview of those times in both Dutchess County and Houghton County.

The Worldview of, say, the British, French and Dutch was quite different. Quite rationally in their perception they saw the US "takeover" as a coup - and the new US role as neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism (or other names, such as Pax Americana, American Hegemony, American Exceptionalism, etc.).

Regards

Mike

Dayuhan
05-21-2011, 04:03 AM
The Worldview of, say, the British, French and Dutch was quite different. Quite rationally in their perception they saw the US "takeover" as a coup - and the new US role as neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism (or other names, such as Pax Americana, American Hegemony, American Exceptionalism, etc.).

Certainly it's easier to blame the Americans than to admit that the bloody wogs ran you out of town. Saving face is by no means an exclusively Asian pastime.

As far as I can tell the reasoning, using the term loosely, goes like this:

FDR was opposed to imperialism

Empires subsequently fell

Therefore FDRs opposition to imperialism caused the fall of empires.

As egregious a fallacy as one is likely to find, but people will believe what they will. If this was a psychology forum we could delve deeply into what factors enable a mind to believe such things despite inability to produce any coherent evidence of a causative link. As it is I shall remain mystified.

davidbfpo
05-21-2011, 11:24 AM
I am not an Imperial history expert nor have read in depth, but there is merit in Dayuhan's last post - blame anyone, especially a dead US President, for our own failures.

In 1945 Great Britain, France and the Netherlands were exhausted. Two had undergone the deep trauma of defeat and occupation.

I suspect part of the answer why people believe what they will lies in psychology and politics. A contemporary illustration maybe found in this UK politicians comment:Business Secretary Vince Cable says it has been a challenge for the government to explain to the public how bad a state the economy is in.

Change a few words and maybe it would fit 1945?

Incidentally I do not agree with his explanation, mainly as it appears to ignore the impact of political decisions for many years on the UK economy.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13480971

Tukhachevskii
05-21-2011, 12:34 PM
Pt. 1

by Dayuhan
Japan was a rising industrial power, almost devoid of natural resources. With regional resources largely locked up in closed-loop colonial trade[snip].
My understanding of Japanese decision making may not be as thorough as yours but from the authorities I’ve read America’s role in pushing Japan towards war with the “west” (as opposed to Russia) is generally considered important, which see...
[from The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6] The Japanese army's war plans, reflecting emphases rather than strict numerical priorities, ascribed first importance to the Russians as the potential enemy from the time of the Russo-Japanese War until the birth of the Soviet Union. With the increase in American influence in the Far East attending a deterioration in U.S.-Japanese relations, the United States replaced Russia after 1918 as the main national enemy. (p. 315)

The Japanese national defence policy was revised further in the mid- 1930s. After the breakdown of the naval accords in 1935, the navy in particular stressed the growing danger of American containment. The giant American naval building program, the major American manoeuvres conducted near Midway Island, and espionage reports on the top-secret Orange War Plan alarmed navy leaders. By 1936, the Japanese navy had drawn up new contingency plans based on "defence in the north, advance to the south." In other words, the naval general staff was looking toward Southeast Asia, a zone of special interest to the colonial powers there, especially Britain and Holland. As a result, the British were added to the list of national enemies in the revision of 1936. However, operational planning against England, involving the neutralization of Hong Kong and Singapore, was not introduced until 1939, and anti-Dutch operations not until 1941.(my italics, p.318)
As for Japan’s post-war prosperity you can’t compare the pre-war international system to the post-war one. Nor should one forget the reasons for Japan’s post-war prosperity...the need for the US to have a strong Asian power whose economy was tied into the US thus buttressing and supporting the American world system and forestalling Communism (the same reasoning behind the Marshall Plan); Japan became part of the US informal empire (completing Commodore Perry’s earlier “venture” in 1853). Japan’s current economic woes are part of that post-war legacy too. In fact...

by Dayuhan
How would "letting the US into those markets and their own" have hurt either to colonies or the home countries, even to the limited extent to which the US penetrated the markets of the remaining colonies? [snip] It should be noted that free trade has not only benefited the US: it's allowed many other nations, both from the old powers and from new ones, to rise and prosper. A huge improvement, it would seem to me.
I take it that the recession- which began in the US and cascaded throughout the economic systems embedded in US capital- is irrelevant? The current global recession is largely to do with American ineptitude in financial matters (deficits, recycling debt, etc.) coupled with the dollar’s position as global trading currency of choice and the manner in which “Western” economies are imbricated (admittedly with the establishment of the EU and the Eurozone things are now a little more complex).

by Dayuhan
An empire requires direct rule, [&c]. Take away a word's meaning and it means nothing at all. Respect the word.

I don’t quite know what to make of that. Words have many meanings and subtle nuances (see Grice on “implicature” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/implicature/)). By your dictionary definition Jefferson’s statement that America is an “empire of liberty” means what, exactly? Or, for that matter, what does empire mean when Hamilton (Fed. Paper 22) says that “The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the consent of the people”? Very odd. Empires can be territorially contiguous and non-contiguous as well as exhibit formal and informal hierarchical relations (http://instituty.fsv.cuni.cz/~kabele/2011_Revoluce/Literatura/Doporu%E8eno/StB_hierarchy_GDR.pdf) (for a start) that’s hardly in contradiction to the dictionary definition. Throwing simplistic dictionary definitions into the fray is hardly conducive to comprehending complex situations. Wittgenstein warned against the very logical positivist fallacy of ascribing a singular meaning to a word when in reality “usage defines meaning”. Cf the following explication from “What’s at Stake in the American Empire Debate” (http://homepage.mac.com/mgemmill/Nexon_Wright_Empire.pdf);
ideal-typical empires [...] differ from hegemonic and unipolar orders because they combine two features: rule through intermediaries and heterogeneous contracting between imperial cores and constituent political communities. These characteristics constitute ideal-typical empires as a form of political organization with particular network properties. Ideal-typical empires comprise a “rimless” hub-and-spoke system of authority, in which cores are connected to peripheries but peripheries themselves are disconnected—–or segmented—–from one another. When a particular set of relations takes on an imperial cast, a number of important changes occur in the basic dynamics of international politics:

First, dynamics of divide-and-rule supplant traditional balance-of-power politics. Imperial control works, in part, by preventing resistance in one periphery from spreading to other peripheries. Some of the most important challenges to imperial rule arise, therefore, when imperial policies, exogenous shocks, transnational movements, or other developments trigger uncoordinated or coordinated simultaneous resistance in multiple peripheries.(cont. below...

Tukhachevskii
05-21-2011, 12:43 PM
Second, the key axis of political relations shift from interstate to intersocietal. Imperial cores exercise rule through local intermediaries over various actors within the domestic sphere of constituent political communities. This structure creates endemic tradeoffs between, on the one hand, the advantages of indirect rule and, on the other, the principal-agent problems that stem from intermediary autonomy. Imperial control of particular peripheries also involves local processes of divide and- rule. Imperial authorities utilize various strategies that, through accident or design, succeed by preventing various local actors from forming widespread coalitions against the terms of imperial control. These strategies, which we call “pivoting” and “binding,” carry with them specific costs and benefits for imperial authorities.

Third, empires face specific problems of legitimating their control. Imperial rule involves heterogeneous contracts that specify varied rights and privileges to different peripheries; empires function most effectively when they maintain their authority over extremely diverse audiences who, in turn, place differing demands on imperial authorities. Empires often best navigate these cross pressures by engaging in “multivocal” or “polyvalent” signalling: by projecting different identities and commitments to discrete audiences. (p253-4)
The above article also eloquently covers a lot of the ground I’d have to yomp over regarding America and Empire (perhaps Latin America would have been a better subject matter) although for specific examples (which include the USSR among others) cf. Krasner’s excellent “Sovereignty: Organised Hypocrisy” (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6744.html) (i.e., Marshall Plan conditionality, America’s role in literally recreating Japan and Germany in an image that suited it, Italy, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it was preferable to the Ruskies).

With respect to this...
by Dayuhan
Why would de-colonization assume a prior political identity? Are you suggesting that people with no prior large-scale political identity can legitimately be occupied and ruled by foreign forces against their will? Whether political identity emerged pre or post colonization seems quite irrelevant to any question of self-determination... [&c].
...I suspect we are in agreement. My original post stressed the “loaded” or “essentially contested” nature of the term “de-colonisation”. Resistance, you are correct in adducing, is very often the catalyst that generates a shared identity. I did not dispute this only that the idea of de-colonisation very often assumes a prior existing identity. What I was objecting to, and my failure in explaining is obvious, was that de-colonisation is very often described as analogous to the collapse of Soviet bloc “overlay” (thus freeing pre-existing states with stable historical consciousnesses) when in fact is was, to use your phrases, sloppier and messier. Nothing in my post precluded or even rebuffed any of the points you raise.

Given your statements here...
Originally Posted by Dayuhan. It's actually very difficult to know what would have happened if WW2 had not occurred, and any such construction is by necessity very speculative indeed.

&

It's easy to speculate that a different approach by someone, somewhere, might have changed the course that the collapse of colonial empires took. Any such speculation is... well, speculative, and we don't know where the road not taken would have led. Likely to an only slightly different form of mess: collapse is by nature a sloppy process.

...I’ve lost the will to argue as I no longer know what we’re arguing about. I don’t particularly disagree with you but I take exception to the idea that somehow the US is an exception to the historical rule or that its position as a (informal) empire is somehow a negative value judgement on the US. However, I suspect that we could argue till the cows come but I don’t really have the stomach for it (especially when I didn’t really want to saying anything in the first place); I shall gracefully bow out. Been nice sparring with you champ;).

JMA
05-21-2011, 02:28 PM
Blaming FDR and/or the US is convenient, but it steadfastly ignores many realities that he/the US had nothing or little to do with creating.

That is merely your opinion and one which has been called "patriotic orthodoxy" in the past.

The presidency of FDR represents a low point in US and world history to the extent that his level of harm is on par with the likes of Hitler. At least nobody is demanding reparations ... yet.

JMA
05-21-2011, 02:31 PM
Certainly it's easier to blame the Americans than to admit that the bloody wogs ran you out of town. Saving face is by no means an exclusively Asian pastime.

As far as I can tell the reasoning, using the term loosely, goes like this:

FDR was opposed to imperialism

Empires subsequently fell

Therefore FDRs opposition to imperialism caused the fall of empires.

As egregious a fallacy as one is likely to find, but people will believe what they will. If this was a psychology forum we could delve deeply into what factors enable a mind to believe such things despite inability to produce any coherent evidence of a causative link. As it is I shall remain mystified.

This is a nonsense argument. Humourous though ;)

JMA
05-21-2011, 02:50 PM
To provide some supporting fires to one of Dayuhan's points:

FDR was absolutely against colonialism (though much of that was his hate of the way it served to exclude the US from participating in rich markets. During WWII FDR met with the leaders of Tunisia, Morocco, etc and sold "democracy" and "self-determination" to an audience buying "liberty" while Churchill sat there and stewed (no booze at the dinner may have been his chief complaint). FDR also went in great detail about the value of doing business with the US...

As they say... with friends like some US Presidents who needs enemies? ... and Israel is about to find that out too.

Note: before there is too much sulking around here I for one am talking about the weaknesses and failures of certain US Presidents. Most countries (who elect heads of state) have a tendency to elect ego driven narcissistic presidents who have massively over-inflated opinions of their own ability. The trouble with the US is that the scope for creating devastation being the head of state of a super power that much bigger and more assured.

So, when colonialism expired at the end of WWII as we were calling for that to happen; there were also long suppressed populaces newly empowered by a modern info age standing up and making the cost exceed the benefit of such arrangements.

1945 the modern info age?

Colonialism didn't expire... it was pushed.

Fuchs
05-21-2011, 03:10 PM
JMA; it had been obvious in places like India that the age of colonialism was about to end. Without WW2, India would probably have gained sovereignty before 1945.

The Italian annexation of Abbyssinia in '37 and the Japanese attempts to quasi-colonialise China had already created much contempt in Europe. Colonialisation was already out of fashion by the 30's and even the colonialisation fo former Ottoman empire territories immediately after WWI as well as of former German colonies was done with new excuses, because flat-out colonialisation wasn't en vogue back in '19 any more.

Let's also keep in mind that decolonialisation actually began in 1815 (I know, anglophone-centric people don't think that way).

JMA
05-21-2011, 03:12 PM
It took over that role (if we take the Worldview of what its spokesmen said, wrote and presumably believed) for the most noble of reasons (e.g., GEN Westmoreland was only one of many Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson era spokesmen who sang the same song):

Portion of quoted piece: "It remains a fact that few countries have ever engaged in such idealistic magnanimity; and no gain or attempted gain for human freedom can be discounted."

In many situations it has been seen that the "heart" behind the US action has been in the right place. That has to be respected. However, it is the implementation that has been almost universally poor. Libya is the latest best example of this.

The Worldview of, say, the British, French and Dutch was quite different. Quite rationally in their perception they saw the US "takeover" as a coup - and the new US role as neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism (or other names, such as Pax Americana, American Hegemony, American Exceptionalism, etc.).

Regards

Mike

OK, so can we agree then that the US used the situation at the time to "takeover"? Then whether it was a "coup" or a natural assertion of authority that comes with power becomes academic.

jmm99
05-21-2011, 08:13 PM
from JMA
OK, so can we agree then that the US used the situation at the time to "takeover"?

and the US has stuck itself with nannytude since WWII in some eyes - or with evil step-mothertude in other eyes. ;)

Leaving my soundbites aside, the idealism expressed by GEN Westmoreland was equalled or exceeded by the idealism of the economic side of the New Frontier and its successor Great Society. One can trace that idealism back in US history through Ike (our Crusader in Europe), Truman, FDR, Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, to Turner's 1893 "Frontier Thesis".

Walt Rostow (e.g., his 1960 "Stages") typified the economic side, which was intended to become a managed, perpetual motion machine that would solve the World's problems, as outlined from the gitgo by JFK:

.... a New Frontier -- the frontier of the 1960's, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats. ... Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. [JFK, 1960 Nomination Acceptance]

Given unlimited economic growth in the US, but more important to the argument, in the Third World, the terms "unsolved", "unconquered", "unanswered" would drop into the dustbin of history. So, the Alliance for Progress, etc., which engaged the US (and US business interests) in many other economies.

Similarly, the US became engaged in global military matters, where one can trace an idealistic line through Maxwell Taylor, William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams. Of the last and the Vietnam War, his son stated (last sentence of Lewis Sorley's, "A Better War"): "He thought the Vietnamese were worth it." Others (including JMM) thought otherwise.

Dayuhan's thesis ("easier to blame the Americans than to admit that the bloody wogs ran you out of town") may have some validity to it. I would not be so dogmatic. I do view US actions after WWII to the present as being motivated more by an unselfish spirit than by a selfish intent to achieve global American domination. You can call that "patriotic orthodoxy" if you wish - I've been called both "fascist" and "communist"; so what the hell, being called a "patriot" is an improvement. :D

Though I believe most of these Americans were motivated by idealism (I'd say excessive idealism, which allowed some of them to lie without apparent guilt), their actions could be rationally viewed as part of an outright global power grab. If your ox or water buff is gored (as the various colonial powers were), you really don't give a damn about the gorer's motives.

Regards

Mike

JMA
05-21-2011, 09:15 PM
Similarly, the US became engaged in global military matters, where one can trace an idealistic line through Maxwell Taylor, William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams. Of the last and the Vietnam War, his son stated (last sentence of Lewis Sorley's, "A Better War"): "He thought the Vietnamese were worth it." Others (including JMM) thought otherwise.

Idealism is fine if genuine. And I accept that at some levels the concern for Vietnam was genuine but that sort of intervention gets shot to hell it not clearly targeted and properly resourced. Which even with my limited knowledge of Vietnam was what happened there. When the whole thing starts to turn upside down then people start to question whether the people you are fighting for are worth the effort and the sacrifice and the cost. Kind of like looking for a justification to pull out.

I don't know what crock FDR sold the American nation but his supposed concern for Britain was nothing of the kind. Not being a Brit I am not going to slash my wrists over that but clearly it seems that the spin doctors have seen to it that the actions of the FDR Administration are seen to have been an American sacrifice to save the free world when it was nothing of the kind... only naked exploitation of a ripe situation for national gain.

Dayuhan's thesis ("easier to blame the Americans than to admit that the bloody wogs ran you out of town") may have some validity to it.

Not valid. Its just the kind of nonsense he produces when he runs out of stuff to say.

The question that must be asked of those who advocated the accelerated independence of the colonies after WW2 is who must take responsibility for what happened afterwards?

You see soldiers who screw up tend to be hauled over the coals in one form or tuther (and so it should be), but the politicians who are responsible for the really big screw ups (like the deaths of millions and the misery of millions more) seem able to slip away like thieves in the night.

Dayuhan
05-22-2011, 12:31 AM
The question that must be asked of those who advocated the accelerated independence of the colonies after WW2 is who must take responsibility for what happened afterwards?

The question is whether that advocacy actually had anything to do with what happened. Neither you nor anyone else has presented anything even remotely resembling evidence to suggest that it did.

Roosevelt had a low opinion of empire, but opinions don't topple empires. Empires didn't fall because a dead President didn't like them, they fell because the colonized people didn't want to be colonized any more, the colonizers lacked the capacity to compel them to be colonized, and the folks on the home front ceased to support the effort to compel them to be colonized. If you want to suggest an American hand in all this you need evidence that American actions accelerated the fall of empire. Words and opinions won't do it.

Certainly the US often stepped in and tried to fill the vacuum left by retreating empires. Certainly they brought their own combination of idealism and avarice to the table, and often made messes nearly as monumental as those made by the original colonizers. That doesn't mean the US caused the fall, though... I can't think of a case where the US supplanted a colonial power that would not have fallen soon of its own accord.

Wouldn't it have been a bit hypocritical of FDR to have fought to roll back the Japanese "Co-prosperity Sphere" and then to have supported the European Empires? Not like there was any real difference...

jmm99
05-22-2011, 02:11 AM
in the case of Vietnam:

from JMA,
When the whole thing starts to turn upside down then people start to question whether the people you are fighting for are worth the effort and the sacrifice and the cost. Kind of like looking for a justification to pull out.

That generic assertion can be true; that is, "not worth the effort and the sacrifice and the cost" can be a "makeweight" - a late in the game dodge - to "justify" a "cut and run". On the other hand, it can be a consistent argument for not intervening in the first place - which argument continues throughout the intervention and may prevail to result in a termination of the intervention.

In the case of Vietnam, the "Vietnam ain't worth much" thesis goes back to whether or not the US should provide materiel assistence in May 1950, or whether more direct measures should be taken. The 1950-1951 War College conclusions (my post #13 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=121293&postcount=13)) presented a 5-point argument:

(1) The United States had probably made a serious mistake in agreeing with its allies to allow French power to be restored in Indochina. As a colonial power, France had done little to develop indigenous civilian and military leaders and civil servants in preparation for the countries' eventual independence.

(2) Indochina was of only secondary strategic importance to the United States. The economic and military value of Vietnam, the most important state in the region, was not impressive. Politically and socially Vietnam was obviously entering an unstable period with uncertain consequences. In any event, it did not warrant the commitment of US forces to its defense.

(3) General war planning by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) envisioned a strategic defense in the Pacific, drawing the U.S. forward defense line to include Japan, South Korea, and the offshore island chain (Okinawa-Taiwan-the Philippines). But in Southeast Asia the line was drawn through the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland, excluding all of Indochina and most of Thailand. Thus, the Straits of Malacca and populous, endowed Indonesia were considered to be the prime strategic targets of the region.

(4) Militarily the region in general and Vietnam in particular would be an extremely difficult operational area, especially for U.S. forces. Unlike the relatively narrow Korean peninsula, Vietnam presented very long land and coastal borders that would be almost impossible to seal against infiltration and difficult to defend against overt military aggression. Much of the region was covered with dense jungle and much was mountainous. Weather, terrain and geographical factors combined to present formidable obstacles for military operations and logistic support.

(5) Politically and psychologically the United States, if it were to become involved, would have to operate under severe disadvantages, for it would inherit the taint of European colonialism. The United States should not become involved in the area beyond providing materiel military aid.
which was reiterated by other military leaders throughout the course of the conflict (e.g., the JCS in 1954 and Ridgway from 1954 into 1970).

1470

1471

1472

(all three snips from Dave Petraeus' thesis)

Those "Never Again, but-ers" were neither pacifists nor "cutters and runners". They simply recognized from the outset that Vietnam would be a very hard slog (if not impossible after Pres. Kennedy decided to "neutralize" Laos and Cambodia) - requiring a huge investment if a ground war were pursued.

The LBJ administration (largely a continuation of Kennedy administration personnel) and LBJ himself marginalized the JCS - McMaster's Dereliction of Duty (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/dp/0060929081) lays out the case (and the lies) in detail (68 Customer Reviews (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/product-reviews/0060929081/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_summary?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending)). He reaches much the same conclusions as I did (back in the 1960s) and hold now (pp.333-334):

The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or on the college campuses. It was lost in Washington D.C., even before Americans assumed sole responsibility for the fighting in 1965 and before they realized the country was at war; indeed even before the first American units were deployed. The disaster in Vietnam was not the result of impersonal forces but a uniquely human failure; the responsibility for which was shared by President Johnson and his principal military and civilian advisers. The failings were many and reinforcing: arrogance, weakness, lying in the pursuit of self-interest, and, above all, the abdication of responsibility to the American people.

I'd add that many of the failings lay in excessive idealism (in both domestic and foreign affairs - e.g., the Great Society and Third World Modernization); and, in the related ideology that everything can be managed and controlled, including warfare.

I'd also add that, whatever one concludes as to Vietnam, the end result in Southeast Asia was not a disaster for the US. Dayuhan doesn't believe the US had much (if anything) to do with that; I differ. There is no point in arguing different beliefs.

My conclusion: each case, and its arguments pro and con, for US intervention, past and present, must be examined separately. An assertion attibuting motives and stereotypes - based on a generic proposition (true only in some cases) - is frankly as dumb as saying: "If you ain't for me (my beliefs), you are against me."

Regards

Mike

jmm99
05-22-2011, 06:12 AM
The issues of Alger Hiss (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alger_Hiss), Harry Hopkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Hopkins) and Yalta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yalta_Conference) lead to lengthy discussions. See, e.g., J.E. Haynes, American Communism and Anticommunism (http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page94.html), and more specifically on Venona, Hiss and the on-going arguments (http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page43.html). On Venona, take a gander at this thread, The Rosenberg Case Resurrected (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6035). If one does not know Venona (pro & con - the intercepts are ambiguous at times), one is doomed to repeat history - making lousy assertions about "reds" and "pinks".

This post is devoted to a much narrower topic, which deals with a single comment by Patrick J. Hurley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_J._Hurley). I went to Don Lohbeck, Patrick J. Hurley (http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-J-Hurley-Don-Lohbeck/dp/B001U6FSEQ) (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1956) because of Dayuhan's citation of Patti's book. Since Hurley was a contemporary in China with Patti, I was interested in seeing what he might have said about Patti. He didn't say anything.

However, the book is inscribed "To Mike from Mother, Christmas 1959" - so, Steve, thank you for the memories (I mean that sincerely - her birthday was 3 May). I suppose the bottom line to her was that Hurley was an anti-communist and an anti-imperialist - a position congruent with her White (e.g., Mannerheim) Finnish background.

Of course, Hurley was an interesting guy for his earlier years alone (before becoming Hoover's Secretary of War). He was the son of a poor Irish miner and then orphaned. He owed his early book learning to Ben Smallwood, Chairman of the Choctaw Council (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Choctaw_chiefs). He cowherded with one Will Rogers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers) and grew up with Victor "Dick" Locke (another Chairman of the Choctaw Council). He was educated at Indian University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bacone_Indian_University,_Muskogee,_OK.jpg) (the only Irishman of the bunch - who became more "Choc" than the "Chocs", the captain of the football team). He became national attorney for the Choctaws, and a spectacular success in oil and gas law. An "Okie from Muskogee".

While he was Pres. Roosevelt's envoy (and then ambassador) to China, he engaged in a verbal war with John S. Service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._Service), John Paton Davies, Jr. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_P._Davies), John Carter Vincent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carter_Vincent), Raymond P. Ludden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_P._Ludden). He did not "war" very much with Joseph Stilwell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stilwell) - both were in different ways "anti-imperialists"; but recommended Stilwell's relief. Hurley found Albert Coady Wedemeyer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_C._Wedemeyer) more acceptable.

Hurley (whom Uncle Joe Stalin considered a "a very tough baby") found the Yalta Agreement to be totally unacceptable. However, he did not blame FDR for its terms (Lohbeck, p.368):

"There is a tendency now," Ambassador Hurley wrote later, "to charge the Yalta Secret Agreement to President Roosevelt. President Roosevelt is dead, but I can say he was not guilty. He was a very sick man at Yalta, and the surrender of China to the Communists in the Secret Agreement of Yalta was engineered by the officials of the American State Department under the brilliant leadership of a young American, Alger Hiss." [19]

19. Letter from Hurley to the Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 28, 1950.
As to Yalta and HST (Harry S. Truman), Hurley:

... held out hope that after President Roosevelt's death, President Harry Truman would recognize what he regarded as the errors of Yalta and would rectify the situation, but his efforts in that direction were in vain. On November 26, 1945, he submitted a scathing letter of resignation.

"I requested the relief of the career men," he wrote, "who were opposing the American policy in the Chinese Theater of war. These professional diplomats were returned to Washington and placed in the Chinese and Far Eastern Divisions of the State Department as my supervisors. Some of these same career men whom I relieved have been assigned as supervisors to the Supreme Commander in Asia. In such positions most of them have continued to side with the Communist armed party and at times with the imperialist bloc against American policy."

(from the Wiki, which is from Lohbeck's book)

Hurley (in the above quote) is consistent as an anti-communist and an anti-imperialist.

As a sidebar, Hurley, as part of "imperialism", identified the Zionist movement as an imperialist movement. I'm somewhat lost as to the logic of that, but here's the source - again from Lohbeck, Patrick J. Hurley Meets David Ben-Gurion (http://www.dcdave.com/article5/061031.htm).

The key point from Hurley is whether FDR was mentally competent at Yalta. My gut, in my "incarnation" as an estate planning attorney, says "Big ?". The next question is when did FDR's mental slide begin ? A large stroke (which killed him) is often preceded by a series of smaller, mind-destroying strokes.

So, JMA, please consider the alternative that FDR at Yalta was "dotty as hell". It does open up some vistas.

Regards

Mike

PS: I can't give you any help as to Jimmy Carter. I've never been able to figure him out.

JMA
05-22-2011, 07:40 AM
in the case of Vietnam:

That generic assertion can be true; that is, "not worth the effort and the sacrifice and the cost" can be a "makeweight" - a late in the game dodge - to "justify" a "cut and run". On the other hand, it can be a consistent argument for not intervening in the first place - which argument continues throughout the intervention and may prevail to result in a termination of the intervention.

Yes, I accept that there were those who wanted to stay out of Vietnam from the outset as there were others who changed their minds or formed an opinion later on.

If one looks at Afghanistan I would be counted among those who maintain that apart from the special forces that helped to target the bombing no combat troops should have been committed to Afghanistan. The aim there (as I understood it) was simple, Strike AQ and punish the Taliban for harbouring AQ. That mission was achieved in magnificent style (apart from missing OBL) in a very short period.

Then we look at Libya where because the implementation of the intervention has proved to be totally incompetent questions are beginning to be asked about whether the intervention was a good idea in the first place. I maintain it was and the resources were available (mainly through US who had decided to intervene anyway) to comply with the mandate given under UNSC 1973 to remove threats to the civilian population in a matter of days.

Now had a short sharp and decisive action taken place then the naval ships could have been free to move down the Med to off Syria so Obama could ask Assad "are you going to behave or do you want some of the same?"

Dayuhan
05-22-2011, 09:00 AM
Any accusation that Roosevelt delivered China to the Communists at Yalta or delivered Eastern Europe to the Soviets at Yalta has to address the question of what Roosevelt could have done to remove the Soviets from Eastern Europe or prevent the Communists from taking over China.

It's already been pointed out here that the Soviets were in physical possession of Eastern Europe, and that short of full-scale war with the Soviets, for which no political support existed in the US, nothing FDR could have said or done at Yalta was likely to dislodge them.

Hurley's views on China are no secret of course, but there's little real reason to believe that anything the US could have said or done, at Yalta or elsewhere, would have kept Mao from taking China. The long-time "China hands" that Hurley argued with had years in China under their belts, much of it out in the field. Most spoke Chinese, several were born in China. Hurley arrived in China as an Ambassador, and knew only what he was told. Reasonably he should have listened to his men in the field, but what they were saying - that Chiang Kai-Shek was finished and Mao was going to win - was, for those days, politically incorrect. It was also true, but I suppose that was less obvious then, especially to those who knew nothing of China.

Not really very much substance in an accusation that Roosevelt, compos mentis or not, delivered China or Eastern Europe to the Commies unless there was some practical course he could have taken to save them from the commies. It's not at all clear that any such course was available.

jmm99
05-22-2011, 09:09 AM
To tell the truth, I was not quite one "who wanted to stay out of Vietnam from the outset". A month or so ago, my neighbor (lets's call him "Lightning Rod"; who was an F-4 jockey in the later 60s and early 70s) and I got into a conversation about Linebacker II - where he flew interference for the B-52s. His BLUF was that we should have launched Linebacker II eight years before (in 1964); and that "we should have taken out all the dikes". In his typical style, he felt compelled to remind me that the spelling was not d-y-k-e-s, but d-i-k-e-s. So, as I've said before (somewhere): "Choice Lemay. Not LBJ".

McMaster (pp.42-44) recounts three major viewpoints on the JCS in Nov 1963 - the Army (Wheeler) and Navy (McDonald) were basically "go with the flow". Maxwell Taylor was very much Kennedy-McNamara (and later Johnson); he had managed to get Lemay to accept the 1963 Geneva Nuclear Test Ban . Taylor himself propounded "flexible response"; and was more than open to the concept of "graduated pressure".

The bottom line for Lemay was massive air retaliation against threats to the US - so a "hard knock" policy against North Vietnam was simply adding 1 + 1 to him. The Lemay policy was surrogated by Barry Goldwater, and everyone in his campaign (including JMM among the grunts) knew it - though Lemay had to keep his mouth shut. We got swamped and the "peace candidate" was elected.

The third viewpoint was that of David Shoup (MOH; USMC Commandant), who propounded something of a "vital interest" test. From McMaster (p.43):

A trip to South Vietnam in 1962 confirmed his abiding conviction that the United States should "not, under any circumstances, get involved in land warfare in Southeast Asia."

My own choice was Lemay's decisive strike first (not likely a "win", but it would have taken NVN a long time to recover - and it was worth a chance); but, if not that, the Shoup approach (shared by many, including MacArthur) of no Asian land wars.

So, as to Astan, agree:

from JMA
If one looks at Afghanistan I would be counted among those who maintain that apart from the special forces that helped to target the bombing no combat troops should have been committed to Afghanistan. The aim there (as I understood it) was simple, Strike AQ and punish the Taliban for harbouring AQ. That mission was achieved in magnificent style (apart from missing OBL) in a very short period.

As to Libya:

from JMA
Then we look at Libya where because the implementation of the intervention has proved to be totally incompetent questions are beginning to be asked about whether the intervention was a good idea in the first place. I maintain it was and the resources were available (mainly through US who had decided to intervene anyway) to comply with the mandate given under UNSC 1973 to remove threats to the civilian population in a matter of days.

My view on that (totally negat as far as the US is concerned) has not changed since day 1.

---------------

Lemay (less than a Taylor friend) blew his cigar smoke at Taylor at JCS meetings, who hated it. I've done that to non-smokers in less exaulted meeting rooms (a neat tactic then).

Ironically, my future boss Arthur Dean negotiated the 1963 Geneva Test Ban. I was hired to the law firm by John Stevenson (who soon after became Legal Adviser at DoS for the Nixon-Kissinger administration), and also worked for Bob MacCrate (who later was outside legal counsel for LTG Peers re: My Lai). I'm not about to speak for them as to what positions they took on Vietnam - you can find that open source with a bit of digging. They did influence my views as to "Vietnamization".

Regards

Mike

JMA
05-22-2011, 09:13 AM
So, JMA, please consider the alternative that FDR at Yalta was "dotty as hell". It does open up some vistas.

Yes, he was as crazy as a coot by Yalta. It is important to look at his state of mind before Tehran as to understand how his arrogant self confidence was to lead to great Soviet (and communist Chinese) advances post WW2.

FDR expressed the belief that if he could establish close personal relations with Stalin, he could exert a positive influence on the Soviet leader directly to Churchill in a message on March 18, 1942: Source (http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/AD_Issues/amdipl_6/stefan.html#background)

I know you will not mind my being brutally frank when I tell you I think I can personally handle Stalin better than your Foreign Office or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He thinks he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so.

Footnote on that source:

5. Warren F. Kimball, ed., Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence.Vol I, (Princeton University Press, 1984), 421. It should be noted, however, that as the war progressed, FDR told his son, James, that "Uncle Joe is smarter and tougher than I thought he was." James Roosevelt (with Bill Libby), My Parents: A Differing View (Chicago: Playboy Press, 1976), 203. But James Roosevelt has also written that FDR "never gave up the conviction he could convince old Joe to go our way". Ibid., 167.

Then the step before Yalta was Tehran. That set the ball rolling.

I thought the matter of an ill/sick/incapacitated President had been dealt with after Woodrow Wilson?

These matters keep rearing their ugly heads because it has been reported that JFK was ill at the Vienna in 1961 (http://www.amazon.com/Berlin-1961-Frederick-Kempe/dp/0399157298) when the wily and experienced Khrushchev in Kennedy' own words "beat the hell out of me."

jmm99
05-22-2011, 09:22 AM
Steve,

My take is that Mao et al played a number of US diplomats like harps. You don't buy that; and perhaps are among the "agrarian reformers" devotees. My take is that Ho played Patti like a harp. You don't buy that. My point on the last three sentences is that what I think and what you think mean diddly spit - what happened in China happened (and that was when I was 2 or 3).

What I did think interesting is the question of FDR's mental competence and when the slide began. He can scarcely be charged with malfeasance or non-feasance if he was not competent.

That was Hurley's point. Why obscure it with collateral arguments ?

Regards

Mike

JMA
05-22-2011, 10:10 AM
JMA; it had been obvious in places like India that the age of colonialism was about to end. Without WW2, India would probably have gained sovereignty before 1945.

The Italian annexation of Abbyssinia in '37 and the Japanese attempts to quasi-colonialise China had already created much contempt in Europe. Colonialisation was already out of fashion by the 30's and even the colonialisation fo former Ottoman empire territories immediately after WWI as well as of former German colonies was done with new excuses, because flat-out colonialisation wasn't en vogue back in '19 any more.

Let's also keep in mind that decolonialisation actually began in 1815 (I know, anglophone-centric people don't think that way).

I believe I need to say that I am not against the decolonialisation that happened back then per se.

My concern has always been the method and the result.

All these so-called smart guys who have been in positions to make momentous decisions affecting the lives of many millions of people across the world have most often turned out to be not so smart or just plain incompetent or just didn't give a damn about the consequences.

Dayuhan
05-22-2011, 10:34 AM
My take is that Mao et al played a number of US diplomats like harps. You don't buy that; and perhaps are among the "agrarian reformers" devotees. My take is that Ho played Patti like a harp. You don't buy that. My point on the last three sentences is that what I think and what you think mean diddly spit - what happened in China happened (and that was when I was 2 or 3).

I have no doubt that Mao and Ho played their respective Americans very successfully. We pay too much attention, though, to the opinions those men had of Mao and Ho and too little to their rather accurate assessments, respectively, of Chiang Kai-Shek and the French.

Patti's message as I read it was that whether Ho was a good guy or not really didn't matter: the French are going to lose and we might as well deal with it now. The message many Americans on the ground sent re Chiang was much the same. Their opinion of Mao may well have been too rosy: revolutionaries, after all, always have appeal, especially when they fight an utterly degenerate and corrupt government. Again, it doesn't matter much. The message that counted was not whether Mao was good or bad, but that Chiang Kai-Shek was going to fall no matter what the US did... a message that was, I suspect, quite accurate. Despite the fantasies of Luce et al, there seems little reason to believe that more armaments or any other form of US assistance would have kept Chiang afloat... he wasn't doing much with the stuff he had.

What I did think interesting is the question of FDR's mental competence and when the slide began. He can scarcely be charged with malfeasance or non-feasance if he was not competent.

That was Hurley's point. Why obscure it with collateral arguments ?

Because it implies that FDR had other, better options that he could have employed if he were in a better state. I've seen little reason to believe that this was the case.

All these so-called smart guys who have been in positions to make momentous decisions affecting the lives of many millions of people across the world have most often turned out to be not so smart or just plain incompetent or just didn't give a damn about the consequences.

It's always easy to criticize the decisions of others, especially with hindsight. In many situations all possible courses have huge risk of negative consequences, and those charged with making decisions don't have the luxury of hindsight. Terms like "incompetent" are easy to sling around, but do we know we'd have done any better in the same position?

Bob's World
05-22-2011, 11:44 AM
Colonialism, like slavery, did not fall "out of fashion." Both simply became unprofitable.

The costs exceeded the benefits. If that had not happened I suspect we would today continue to morally rationalize both, just as humans did for the thousands of years.

Does anyone think that humans today are morally superior to those of all other times???

So, the question is, what changed the business model?

For Slavery, the advent of mechanization of the industrial age was a major factor in making it much cheaper to hire freemen at low wages to do the work that required many to do previously. Or to enable men to do work that simply physically was too demanding and dangerous to attract people to sign up for willingly in the past.

For Colonialism I will link the primary factor to the same factor I see driving major eras of insurgency, revolution and social change: Advents in Information Technology. An informed and connected populace is an empowered populace. An empowered populace is far more expensive to hold in collective servitude to some colonial master. It simply takes too many troops, too much effort to hold such an outrageous imbalance of power in place. As the American Colonists were fond of saying "An Island should not rule a Continent!!"

For the United States today there are lessons to be learned. Our own role is in many ways a de facto empire. Empires keep evolving over time. The Brits were less intrusive than the Romans; the Americans are less intrusive than the Brits. All, however, disrupt the relationship between a populace and their government by inserting a stronger, external power into the mix. We see today in many places where the US has emplaced control measures following WWII to implement Containment and to secure sea lanes and vital resources, a belt of shady governments and restless populaces.

Once again, the Cost/Benefit equation is shifting. The US must not "cut and run" as so many who see things in all or nothing terms might suggest. The US must, however, devise and implement a less controlling, and therefore less expensive, approach to servicing its interests in these vital locations. My belief (as I have shared here once or twice) is that such an approach will still work with governments, but will be much more cognizant of and sensitive to the will of the affected populaces; and will be much more willing to work with whatever government those people select for themselves. Selecting or artificially extending the reigns of governments that come to act with impunity toward their own people is no longer cost effective.

I agree with the morality of Wilson and FDR in calling for an end to Colonialism. The Pragmatism of Lincoln in dealing with Slavery is probably more accurate. At the end of the day, these matters always come down to a question of if the Juice is worth the Squeeze.

Cheers.

Bob

JMA
05-22-2011, 12:15 PM
It's always easy to criticize the decisions of others, especially with hindsight. In many situations all possible courses have huge risk of negative consequences, and those charged with making decisions don't have the luxury of hindsight. Terms like "incompetent" are easy to sling around, but do we know we'd have done any better in the same position?

We use history and the release of hitherto classified information all the time to cast new light on the events of the past. Nothing new about that and it only seems to be a problem if what seeps out challenges what has passed for the truth before.

The problem as I see it is that certainly in the case of the US some individuals seek the highest public office not because they are qualified in terms of ability or experience but because they seek power and/or recognition. As a primer read this NYT article: All Politics Is Thymotic (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A01EFD81E31F93AA25750C0A9609C8B 63)

Of course these people will never let on that they are only in it for themselves and will sell with the help of an army of spin doctors that they are really idealists (or whatever) acting only in the best interests of the country they represent. What a crock.

To the average American this may seem trivial as they get a chance to start all over again every four years. Quite often for others living across the world it is not so simple as to wipe the slate clean and start again. Take for example the people of Iraq or the people of Afghanistan. Then add to all this the confusion amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians as each new "wonder kid" enters the WH and decides what their future will be.

Lets talk incompetent. What is obvious is that given the democratic system in the US the American people are incompetent in their ability to elect a President of ability. This may not be a problem for the American people but it certainly is for those others living across the world who have to live with the outcome of US presidential decisions intended or otherwise.

I am only half joking when I say that prior to being allowed to stand for the Presidency (and probably other offices as well) candidates should submit to psychiatric evaluation .. and medical examination. If not for the sake of the US then for the sake of the world.

--------------------------
From Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incompetent)

Definition of INCOMPETENT

1: not legally qualified
2: inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose
3
a : lacking the qualities needed for effective action
b : unable to function properly <incompetent heart valves>

Backwards Observer
05-22-2011, 12:27 PM
Maj. Gen. LeMay expresses his unadorned and straightforward view of civilians:

In a 3 hour period they'd dropped 1,665 tons of incendiary bombs killing more than 100,000 civilians and incinerating 16 square miles of the city. Precise figures aren't available but the firebombing and the nuclear bombing campaign against Japan, directed by LeMay between March 1945 and the Japanese surrender in August 1945, may have killed more than 1 million Japanese civilians. Official estimates from the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey put the numbers at 330,000 people killed, 476 injured, 8.5 million people made homeless, and 2.5 million buildings destroyed.

"There are no innocent civilians, so it doesn't bother me so much to be killing innocent bystanders" The New York Times reported at the time, "Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, Commander of the B-29s in the entire Marianas area, declared that if the war was shortened by a single day the attack will have served its purpose."

"THERE ARE NO INNOCENT CIVILIANS, SO IT DOESN"T BOTHER ME SO MUCH TO BE KILLING INNOCENT BYSTANDERS."

Anyone else think that sounds a bit, uh, you know...EVIL?

Here, I'll start the first reply, "Well, it's not evil in LeMay's case because..."

World War 2 Remembered (http://ww2remembered.bravehost.com/CurtisLeMay.html)

Dayuhan
05-22-2011, 12:55 PM
We use history and the release of hitherto classified information all the time to cast new light on the events of the past. Nothing new about that and it only seems to be a problem if what seeps out challenges what has passed for the truth before.

People invent all sorts of histories. Not all "challenges to what has passed for the truth before" have any basis in fact or are supported by any sort of evidence. Often they are simply contrived to support a given viewpoint or preconceived belief. What passed for truth before may have been contrived for the same reasons. All we can do to make sense of it is to assess each point on its merits and on the merits of the evidence presented to support it... if no evidence is advanced to support a given theory, it's not generally worth considering it.

So far you've advanced no tangible evidence that FDRs opinion of empire altered the course of decolonization.

The problem as I see it is that certainly in the case of the US some individuals seek the highest public office not because they are qualified in terms of ability or experience but because they seek power and/or recognition.

People seek power for all kinds of reasons, often bad ones. This is in no way unique to the US.

To the average American this may seem trivial as they get a chance to start all over again every four years. Quite often for others living across the world it is not so simple as to wipe the slate clean and start again. Take for example the people of Iraq or the people of Afghanistan. Then add to all this the confusion amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians as each new "wonder kid" enters the WH and decides what their future will be.

You can have democracy or continuity, but you're not likely to have both.

Lets talk incompetent. What is obvious is that given the democratic system in the US the American people are incompetent in their ability to elect a President of ability. This may not be a problem for the American people but it certainly is for those others living across the world who have to live with the outcome of US presidential decisions intended or otherwise.

Will you at least concede that your personal assessments of competence and ability are subjective and based solely on your personal opinions?

JMA
05-22-2011, 01:47 PM
People invent all sorts of histories. Not all "challenges to what has passed for the truth before" have any basis in fact or are supported by any sort of evidence. Often they are simply contrived to support a given viewpoint or preconceived belief. What passed for truth before may have been contrived for the same reasons. All we can do to make sense of it is to assess each point on its merits and on the merits of the evidence presented to support it... if no evidence is advanced to support a given theory, it's not generally worth considering it.

So far you've advanced no tangible evidence that FDRs opinion of empire altered the course of decolonization.

In my case 30 years on and now declassified stuff is starting to come out... there are some surprises. If the evidence leads to different conclusions then denial serves no purpose. Embrace the truth... rather than defend a lie.

You are welcome to prove any of my assertions wrong... if you can. Saying "prove it" takes me back to the schoolyard... and I'm not going back there. You have two choices. One, prove me wrong. Two, if you believe me to be wrong but don't have the time or interest to prove it then just ignore it.

People seek power for all kinds of reasons, often bad ones. This is in no way unique to the US.

Agreed. But the potential for damage through the actions of a clown in the WH is on a far greater scale than most (from say your average Mickey Mouse country).

You can have democracy or continuity, but you're not likely to have both.

You are working off the US model. The wild policy swings are not inevitable. It is a weakness in the American system and/or character.

Will you at least concede that your personal assessments of competence and ability are subjective and based solely on your personal opinions?

Not all, mostly they are supported by the facts available. You are free to conduct some research and prove me wrong where you can... if you can.

JMA
05-23-2011, 04:47 PM
Colonialism, like slavery, did not fall "out of fashion." Both simply became unprofitable.

The costs exceeded the benefits. If that had not happened I suspect we would today continue to morally rationalize both, just as humans did for the thousands of years.

Does anyone think that humans today are morally superior to those of all other times???

So, the question is, what changed the business model?

For Slavery, the advent of mechanization of the industrial age was a major factor in making it much cheaper to hire freemen at low wages to do the work that required many to do previously. Or to enable men to do work that simply physically was too demanding and dangerous to attract people to sign up for willingly in the past.

For Colonialism I will link the primary factor to the same factor I see driving major eras of insurgency, revolution and social change: Advents in Information Technology. An informed and connected populace is an empowered populace. An empowered populace is far more expensive to hold in collective servitude to some colonial master. It simply takes too many troops, too much effort to hold such an outrageous imbalance of power in place. As the American Colonists were fond of saying "An Island should not rule a Continent!!"

For the United States today there are lessons to be learned. Our own role is in many ways a de facto empire. Empires keep evolving over time. The Brits were less intrusive than the Romans; the Americans are less intrusive than the Brits. All, however, disrupt the relationship between a populace and their government by inserting a stronger, external power into the mix. We see today in many places where the US has emplaced control measures following WWII to implement Containment and to secure sea lanes and vital resources, a belt of shady governments and restless populaces.

Once again, the Cost/Benefit equation is shifting. The US must not "cut and run" as so many who see things in all or nothing terms might suggest. The US must, however, devise and implement a less controlling, and therefore less expensive, approach to servicing its interests in these vital locations. My belief (as I have shared here once or twice) is that such an approach will still work with governments, but will be much more cognizant of and sensitive to the will of the affected populaces; and will be much more willing to work with whatever government those people select for themselves. Selecting or artificially extending the reigns of governments that come to act with impunity toward their own people is no longer cost effective.

I agree with the morality of Wilson and FDR in calling for an end to Colonialism. The Pragmatism of Lincoln in dealing with Slavery is probably more accurate. At the end of the day, these matters always come down to a question of if the Juice is worth the Squeeze.

Cheers.

Bob

Thank you, a valuable thought provoking contribution.

slapout9
05-23-2011, 04:58 PM
So, the question is, what changed the business model?



Science changed the business model. Science is the creator of wealth not Capitalism or Communism or Socialism. Always has been always will be.

Sigaba
05-23-2011, 07:53 PM
JMA--

What are your references (either primary sources or secondary works) for your interpretations of FDR's conduct of American foreign policy and American diplomatic history more generally?

Dayuhan
05-24-2011, 12:26 AM
In my case 30 years on and now declassified stuff is starting to come out... there are some surprises. If the evidence leads to different conclusions then denial serves no purpose. Embrace the truth... rather than defend a lie.

What newly emerged truths, specifically, have emerged that support your contentions? o ahead, surprise us...

You are welcome to prove any of my assertions wrong... if you can.

The burden of proving an allegation rests rationally on the person making the allegation... especially with allegations that are visibly and immediately suspect.

Saying "prove it" takes me back to the schoolyard... and I'm not going back there. You have two choices. One, prove me wrong. Two, if you believe me to be wrong but don't have the time or interest to prove it then just ignore it.

In other words, you can't support the allegations you're making. Why then should anyone take them seriously?

If you're going to claim that FDR caused the chaos of decolonization, you have to be able to cite specific actions that FDR initiated that had a demonstrable impact on the decolonization process. Opinions are irrelevant. We all know that FDR had a low opinion of empire, as did almost any other thinking person. His opinion was scarcely going to have an impact on a process that took place well after his death. What did FDR actually do, and what impact did that action have on the decolonization process?

Responsibility for decolonization rests naturally on the colonial power. Certainly the US has some responsibility for the decolonization process in the Philippines. If you want to hold the US responsible for the decolonization process in India or Africa you have to be able to cite specific US actions and demonstrate that they had a significant impact on those processes. Again, words mean nothing, unless the words were translated into actions that had a demonstrable impact on events.

Similarly, if you want to claim that FDR caused the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe or the Communist victory in China, you have to cite concrete actions by FDR and establish a causative link between those actions and the events that followed.

The burden of proof lies on whoever made the allegation in the first place. Make a claim, you have to be prepared to support that claim if someone calls BS. Consider it called. Support the allegations credibly, or abandon them.

JMA
05-24-2011, 01:36 PM
JMA--

What are your references (either primary sources or secondary works) for your interpretations of FDR's conduct of American foreign policy and American diplomatic history more generally?

Always nice to hear from someone wanting to learn. Learning is a personal journey and you really need to chose your own route.

But as a starter I suggest you start here:

My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin (http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Mr-Stalin-Correspondence-Roosevelt/dp/0300108540/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)

Here is a good review on that book - Roosevelt-Stalin Correspondence Sheds Light on FDR Post-War Vision (http://www.larouchepub.com/other/book_reviews/2007/3427fdr_stalin_corres.html)

Now over to you...

JMA
05-24-2011, 04:07 PM
What newly emerged truths, specifically, have emerged that support your contentions? o ahead, surprise us...

The burden of proving an allegation rests rationally on the person making the allegation... especially with allegations that are visibly and immediately suspect.

In other words, you can't support the allegations you're making. Why then should anyone take them seriously?

If you're going to claim that FDR caused the chaos of decolonization, you have to be able to cite specific actions that FDR initiated that had a demonstrable impact on the decolonization process. Opinions are irrelevant. We all know that FDR had a low opinion of empire, as did almost any other thinking person. His opinion was scarcely going to have an impact on a process that took place well after his death. What did FDR actually do, and what impact did that action have on the decolonization process?

Responsibility for decolonization rests naturally on the colonial power. Certainly the US has some responsibility for the decolonization process in the Philippines. If you want to hold the US responsible for the decolonization process in India or Africa you have to be able to cite specific US actions and demonstrate that they had a significant impact on those processes. Again, words mean nothing, unless the words were translated into actions that had a demonstrable impact on events.

Similarly, if you want to claim that FDR caused the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe or the Communist victory in China, you have to cite concrete actions by FDR and establish a causative link between those actions and the events that followed.

The burden of proof lies on whoever made the allegation in the first place. Make a claim, you have to be prepared to support that claim if someone calls BS. Consider it called. Support the allegations credibly, or abandon them.

I told you that I am not going to descend into a school yard debate with you on this matter. Learn to live with it.

davidbfpo
05-24-2011, 04:28 PM
The WW2 British slogan 'Keep Calm and Carry On' appears to fit here and now. In recent days the tone has broken down, so stay within the SWC rules please.

Steve Blair
05-24-2011, 04:28 PM
I told you that I am not going to descend into a school yard debate with you on this matter. Learn to live with it.

Asking someone to clarify their sources or amplify on them to support a viewpoint is not schoolyard debate. It's a standard part of scholarly discussion. Perhaps it's not something folks are accustomed to in the political snippet dominated internet, but when you're having historical discussions here it's best to keep that in mind and learn to live with it.

Frankly, your whole "FDR is responsible for everything" position is untenable because it ignores the influence of many other actors (both within the U.S. administration and outside of it...to include leaders in any number of countries). While "great man history" can be somewhat satisfying and convenient for justifying any number of positions, it fails spectacularly when subjected to close examination.

And asking for references, as Sigaba did, is pretty much the same thing as Dayuhan did, although in a shorter format.

JMA
05-24-2011, 05:31 PM
Asking someone to clarify their sources or amplify on them to support a viewpoint is not schoolyard debate. It's a standard part of scholarly discussion. Perhaps it's not something folks are accustomed to in the political snippet dominated internet, but when you're having historical discussions here it's best to keep that in mind and learn to live with it.

Frankly, your whole "FDR is responsible for everything" position is untenable because it ignores the influence of many other actors (both within the U.S. administration and outside of it...to include leaders in any number of countries). While "great man history" can be somewhat satisfying and convenient for justifying any number of positions, it fails spectacularly when subjected to close examination.

And asking for references, as Sigaba did, is pretty much the same thing as Dayuhan did, although in a shorter format.

Steve I hear what you say. But do yourself a small favour and look back over the #77 posts in this thread and see whether Dayuhan has provided any source or link or whatever to support his opinion. As for the new guy let him explain his position and provide the sources etc etc which he expects from others before he arrives out of the blue and demands sources and references from me. Surely that is the even handed manner how it should work in an open forum, yes?

Steve Blair
05-24-2011, 05:39 PM
Steve I hear what you say. But do yourself a small favour and look back over the #77 posts in this thread and see whether Dayuhan has provided any source or link or whatever to support his opinion. As for the new guy let him explain his position and provide the sources etc etc which he expects from others before he arrives out of the blue and demands sources and references from me. Surely that is the even handed manner how it should work in an open forum, yes?

I've been reviewing the entire thread for some time. I'm spelling out the methods of scholarly discussion for everyone involved, actually. David and I posted at the same time, but the message is really the same and goes out to everyone. Keep it civil. Keep it informed.

I mentioned your FDR comments specifically because I've always had an issue with "great man" theory. It has its uses, and can be informative up to a certain level (for example when examining MacArthur, because he had a great deal of control over who served on his staff and thus could shape the message and information himself), but it tends to break down when it's extended beyond its brief (such as when looking at most national or world leaders, especially in anything approaching the modern era).

Sigaba
05-24-2011, 07:54 PM
Entire post.JMA--

It is my observation that you take a (deleted) tone in your posts towards other members in this BB. It is also my observation, based upon the content of your posts, that this tone is unwarranted. In regards to you taking this tone with me, I suggest that you stop. Immediately.

In regards to your posts on this specific topic, you have offered broad interpretations of the history of American foreign relations, as well as of international diplomatic history, as well as of American political history, that were in vogue several decades but have proven to be intellectually and historiographically unsustainable in the last twenty plus years.

This isn't to say that all of your positions are indefensible, but rather that some are, but for entirely different reasons. Your use of some primary source materials does not disguise the fact that you are out of touch with several trajectories of historiographical discourse that provide sustainable frameworks for interpretation.

(Deleted) More research would also help.

davidbfpo
05-24-2011, 08:14 PM
I repeat an earlier Moderator's intervention:The WW2 British slogan 'Keep Calm and Carry On' appears to fit here and now. In recent days the tone has broken down, so stay within the SWC rules please.

Steve Blair has also posted as a Moderator.

This thread has gathered momentum, with posts that I have found interesting in a niche area (Saigon 1945) and others have raised valid arguments that FDR was one factor in the demise of empires. If you are not familiar with 'grace and humour' that is my shorthand for the SWC rules.

Dayuhan
05-25-2011, 04:50 AM
But do yourself a small favour and look back over the #77 posts in this thread and see whether Dayuhan has provided any source or link or whatever to support his opinion.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Negative_proof

A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:

X is true because there is no proof that X is false.

If the only evidence for something's existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God's existence or in pseudosciences where it is used to attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.

Backwards Observer
05-25-2011, 09:44 AM
I repeat an earlier Moderator's intervention:The WW2 British slogan 'Keep Calm and Carry On' appears to fit here and now.

Huzzah for sensible moderation. If I may, a joke from the colonial times:

Q: Why does the sun never set on the British Empire?

A: Because God doesn't trust the Englishmen in the dark.

Jolly good.

(image from alvarezguitargirl.net (http://www.alvarezguitargirl.net/2010/10/keep-calm-and-carry-on.html))

davidbfpo
05-25-2011, 10:26 AM
Dayuhan,

Taking a different angle and having skimmed the thread you asked, akin to "What could FDR have done to stop the Communists taking over in China?"

FDR died on April 12th 1945, VE Day was May 8th 1945 and VJ Day was August 14th 1945. His successor Harry Truman apparently knew little of what policy had been:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman

I've been puzzled, albeit on limited reading, why an entire USMC Corps was deployed to Northern China, to supervise Japanese repatriation and played a role in supporting the Nationalist Chinese cause;The very presence of the Marines in North China holding open the major ports of entry, the coal mines, and the railroads was an incalculably strong military asset to the Central Government. And the fact that the U.S. had provided a good part of the arms of the troops scheduled to take over North China and Manchuria made the situation even more explosive.

The cited article has many fascinating parts:http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/V/USMC-V-V-3.html

The USMC Corps was run-down after two years and by 1948 the Division in place, at Tsingtao mainly was supervising Western repatriation amidst the civil war.

I suggest that FDR may have been aware of the planning for a post-war China, especially after the agreement - probably at Yalta - for the Soviet Union to attack Manchuria (which they subsequently occupied and looted before the Chinese took over). Presumably like the agreements on French Indo-China, where the Nationalist Chinese occupied the north and the British the south (actually Saigon and little further).

Just a thought from my armchair.

Bob's World
05-25-2011, 11:20 AM
The problem was not one of what we could have done to prevent the Communists from prevailing, the real question is one of what we could have done to recognize that (ideology aside, we always get distracted by that) how could we have identified that the Communists represented more of the populace and were the force destined to carry China out of a Feudal/Colonial past into a sovereign future?

We picked the wrong team for the wrong reasons.

I know how we would feel about China working to "prevent" some political party from taking office in the US...

It is time to re-frame old questions. Even now the largest argument for defending Taiwan is to "prevent China from doing something we don't want them to do" even though we recognize Taiwan to be part of China. We need to evolve and move on. We have bigger issues to apply our energy against. The "control freak" approach to world leadership is not much more satisfactory than it is at any other level, particularly when we seek to control things that are really little of our business.

JMA
05-25-2011, 11:50 AM
We picked the wrong team for the wrong reasons.


Who is the we here Bob? Surely FDR.

He got it wrong with both his reading of China and Chiang Kai-shek as he did with Stalin and the Soviets.

Is there anything this man got correct?

Bob's World
05-25-2011, 12:01 PM
Who is the we here Bob? Surely FDR.

He got it wrong with both his reading of China and Chiang Kai-shek as he did with Stalin and the Soviets.

Is there anything this man got correct?

Read the work of Dr. (Father) Wilson MisCamble (sp) of Notre Dame University. He offers some insights into the strategic thinking of the man that I found very helpful as I thought about and then wrote the cover piece for the current issue of Defense Concepts.

Using FDRs platform for advancing US Grand Strategy coming out of WWII (which he never implemented for the obvious reasons) I used that as a centerpiece for looking at how the US might best approach the world emerging about us today.

http://www.c4ads.org/sites/default/files/49967316-Defense-Concepts-Winter-2011.pdf

Backwards Observer
05-25-2011, 12:56 PM
The "control freak" approach to world leadership is not much more satisfactory than it is at any other level, particularly when we seek to control things that are really little of our business.

If we remember our Dickens, (and by George who doesn't?):

There is a character in the works of Charles Dickens who is increasingly coming to symbolize the spirit of the age in which we now live.

Readers of Dickens will recall the figure of Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House," a lady who was full of good intentions and advice about the welfare and standards of distant peoples in Africa and elsewhere, but unfortunately overlooked and neglected the conditions in her own family and her own home. Dickens depicts her as a "telescopic philanthropist," fixated on distant causes at the expense of her own family and home values.

West resembles Mrs. Jellyby - Japan Times - May 28, 2009 (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20090528dh.html)

Among the many memorable characters populating Charles Dickens’s novel Bleak House is the formidable Mrs. Jellyby, a woman living in London who resolutely devotes every waking hour to a project in Africa that she refers to as the “Borrioboola-Gha venture.” Her goal is the resettlement of impoverished Britons among African natives, all of whom will support themselves through coffee growing. Mrs. Jellyby is convinced that no other undertaking in life is so worthwhile or would solve so many social problems, in both Africa and England, at a stroke.

Mrs. Jellyby and the Domination of Causes - In Communion, website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship - Feb 19, 2006 (http://www.incommunion.org/2006/02/19/mrs-jellyby-and-the-domination-of-causes/)

Dayuhan
05-25-2011, 01:05 PM
He got it wrong with both his reading of China and Chiang Kai-shek as he did with Stalin and the Soviets.

Whether he read it wrong or not may not be all that important. No matter how he read situations, here's nothing FDR could have realistically done that would have prevented Chiang from falling to the Communists, there's nothing he could have realistically done that could have dislodged the Soviets from Eastern Europe, and there's nothing he could realistically done to have prevented the dissolution of the European empires. History was going to roll on no matter what FDR said or did. God he was not. Attributing all that happened after to His words or opinions (you don't seem to be citing any actions) is an overestimation of his power.

Is there anything this man got correct?

Winning the war?

If you want to assign the man blame for all that went wrong after his watch, surely you should give him credit for all that went right during his watch...

I've been puzzled, albeit on limited reading, why an entire USMC Corps was deployed to Northern China, to supervise Japanese repatriation and played a role in supporting the Nationalist Chinese cause;

Many decisions late in the Pacific theater war were very hastily patched together. Because of the secrecy of the nuclear program there was little hint given that a surrender was imminent, and planning was very sketchy. Decisions on who would occupy what and who would accept surrenders where were slapped together, sometimes with lasting impact... for example, if the British had not been assigned to deal with southern Indochina it is likely that the French recovery of control in the south would have been much delayed.

I don't know the specific reasons for the Marine deployment. There was a great deal of concern, though, that the relatively fresh Japanese forces in China might refuse to accept the surrender and resist. That may have been one reason to deploy a fairly large force. It's also very possible that there may have been preparation for a larger effort in support of the nationalists then was ultimately pursued.

Speculation, of course, but either or would be reasonable.

tequila
05-25-2011, 01:29 PM
I've been puzzled, albeit on limited reading, why an entire USMC Corps was deployed to Northern China, to supervise Japanese repatriation and played a role in supporting the Nationalist Chinese cause;

Truman deployed some 40k U.S. Marines to secure China for the KMT. He was quite explicit about this in his own autobiography. IJA troops were specifically instructed not to surrender their arms to Chinese troops, but instead to hold the line against the Communists until American or KMT forces airlifted by Americans arrived. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Civil_War)

"It was perfectly clear to us that if we told the Japanese to lay down their arms immediately and march to the seaboard, the entire country would be taken over by the Communists. We therefore had to take the unusual step of using the enemy as a garrison until we could airlift Chinese National troops to South China and send Marines (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps) to guard the seaports".


There were over 100k American troops still in China in 1946, and there are abundant letters written by those soldiers and Marines wondering why they were still in a foreign country, guarding sites alongside an enemy (the IJA) they were ostensibly supposed to be disarming.

Similar use of IJA forces by the British and French in French Indochina is well documented.

I have no idea how JMA can blame FDR for the fall of KMT China in 1948, years after his death. Truman had set his own foreign policy by then, and it's not as if the U.S. can be accused by anyone of skimping aid to the KMT. The fact that PLA troops in Korea in 1950 were killing Americans largely with American equipment captured from the KMT is telling.

davidbfpo
05-25-2011, 02:26 PM
Looking at the thread it has two themes: what was responsible for the empire's demise and was FDR responsible?

I am interested in both, although less with FDR's role or lack of one as after his death.

So can we leave FDR alone now?

Steve Blair
05-25-2011, 03:39 PM
So can we leave FDR alone now?

I would hope so.

Dayuhan
05-25-2011, 10:30 PM
Truman deployed some 40k U.S. Marines to secure China for the KMT. He was quite explicit about this in his own autobiography. IJA troops were specifically instructed not to surrender their arms to Chinese troops, but instead to hold the line against the Communists until American or KMT forces airlifted by Americans arrived. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Civil_War)...

Similar use of IJA forces by the British and French in French Indochina is well documented.


Are there any recorded instances of IJA forces actually fighting communist forces in China post-surrender? I don't know of any, but there might be some. In Indochina the Japanese were technically responsible for maintaining order but in fact exercised virtually no effort to contain the violence. These orders may have been given but I'm not at all sure they were carried out.

Dayuhan
05-25-2011, 11:16 PM
Looking at the thread it has two themes: what was responsible for the empire's demise and was FDR responsible?

I am interested in both, although less with FDR's role or lack of one as after his death.

So can we leave FDR alone now?

I'd also be happy to leave the shade of FDR in the shade.

If we speak specifically of the British Empire, one question I'd have for someone on your side of the water would revolve around the extent to which the election of Clement Attlee and the subsequent shift to what have been referred to as "socialist" policies drove the acceptance of colonial breakaways. I'm thinking not only of Attlee's actual policies but also that his victory might in part represent a general shift in public opinion away from the ideal of an Empire that had brought far more benefit to the social elite than to the exchequer or the common Briton..

It seems to me that India's break from the Empire was in many ways the loss of the keystone that brought the arch tumbling down. India was the crown jewel of the Empire and an example for the other subjugated peoples; in a practical sense it had also been a major source of troops deployed to keep other subjugated peoples subjugated.

I have to wonder... given the size of India and the nationwide resistance that was kicked off after the Royal Indian Navy mutiny in Feb '46, and given the generally war-ravaged state of the home military and the populace, is there any realistic way that even a thoroughly imperialist PM could have deployed enough force to India fast enough to prevent a breakaway? Possibly in a smaller colony, or a localized rebellion in India, or in an Indian rebellion that did not involve the Indian armed forces as a center of resistance, but that's not what came up.

Was Attlee's move toward Indian independence a conscious decision to move Britain away from Empire or an acknowledgement that Britain simply no longer had the capacity to hold India against its will? To what extent was that decision forced by popular unwillingness to engage in major military action in support of Empire?

I cannot prove, of course, that the disembodied spirit of a dead American was not whispering words of appeasement in dear Clement's ear, or inciting rebellion in Mumbai and Calcutta, but since the affair was conducted among the governments and populaces of Britain and India it seems reasonable to look for answers there.

tequila
05-26-2011, 01:09 AM
Are there any recorded instances of IJA forces actually fighting communist forces in China post-surrender? I don't know of any, but there might be some. In Indochina the Japanese were technically responsible for maintaining order but in fact exercised virtually no effort to contain the violence. These orders may have been given but I'm not at all sure they were carried out.

I doubt either the IJA or the CPC were looking for fights on anything but a local level. The Communists were busy taking over the countryside in the North, which was how they defeated the KMT over the next four years, which the IJA happily conceded to them. The IJA's main role was to keep the cities and industrial centers/railroads out of Communist hands, and the Communists chose not to waste their strength challenging them there.

I do know that the CPC occasionally launched attacks on the U.S. Marine forces that took over for the Japanese after 1946, occasionally killing some Marines in ambushes or sniping at them on the coal trains, but I've never seen anything more than local attacks probably ordered by resentful local commanders.

JMA
05-26-2011, 06:42 AM
Read the work of Dr. (Father) Wilson MisCamble (sp) of Notre Dame University. He offers some insights into the strategic thinking of the man that I found very helpful as I thought about and then wrote the cover piece for the current issue of Defense Concepts.

Using FDRs platform for advancing US Grand Strategy coming out of WWII (which he never implemented for the obvious reasons) I used that as a centerpiece for looking at how the US might best approach the world emerging about us today.

http://www.c4ads.org/sites/default/files/49967316-Defense-Concepts-Winter-2011.pdf

Bob, for what it's worth I found your article a good read.

Idealists, dreamers - visionaries if you like - tend to scare the hell out of me. Especially when they start talking about stuff like "freedom from fear and want" one wonders it they are in touch with reality.

In your article you lay out FDR's vision. Despite his best efforts his vision failed to be fulfilled and as can be or should have been anticipated the resulting failure was a train smash. Truman (and the rest of the free world) had to deal with the wreckage.

For three terms and 82 days FDR prepared the ground work for his vision and as such a series of activities had been set in motion and as has been stated the ghost of FDR still haunts US foreign policy to this day. His sudden death did not bring all that he had started to an immediate halt. There was momentum which carried his vision forward.

His Four Policemen idea relied on emasculating the British and consigning them to a subservient role to the US and tasked with "looking after" western Europe. In this he succeeded.

As stated and proved by history he backed the wrong horse in China.

His supposed "understanding" of Stalin was a disaster. He was so desperate to bring and keep Stalin on board that he was prepared to be manipulated by Stalin at just about every turn. To the extent that he was prepared to exclude eastern European countries from his third pillar "The Right of Self-Determination" and allow Stalin a free hand. 50 years later eastern Europe is trying to recover.

His post colonial outcome was naive to say the least. The mind boggles that he thought that it would work by "Enabling formerly colonial societies to achieve independence through an evolution of governance, rather than revolution against governance; all under the watchful eye of the four policemen."

And these four objective policemen would guide these nations to "Self-Determination" and independence "through an evolution of governance"? Come on.

Back to your paper. I suggest that one "visionary" US President is about all the world can stand. One certainly hopes (and prays) that the world is spared another one.

As an aside I am somewhat taken aback at the denial displayed by some in relation to the effect of FDR on the world. If his foreign policy was positive for the US I can't for the life of me see how. He was certainly not good for Europe, Africa and large chunks of Asia. So for who and where did FDR idealism work?

JMA
05-26-2011, 07:01 AM
I have no idea how JMA can blame FDR for the fall of KMT China in 1948, years after his death.

I never said anything of the kind.

JMA
05-26-2011, 07:21 AM
Using FDRs platform for advancing US Grand Strategy coming out of WWII (which he never implemented for the obvious reasons) I used that as a centerpiece for looking at how the US might best approach the world emerging about us today.

Bob, to pick up on Grand Strategy as opposed to down the line strategies of a military kind.

I have found the lack of understanding of the difference between a nation's Grand Strategy and other subordinate strategies to be widely prevalent.

From my own little war one hears nonsense like "Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat" and when challenged about which strategy the result is silence.

I borrow from your article where you quote Dr. Peter Feaver on Grand Strategy as follows:


“Grand strategy is a quintessentially interdisciplinary concept, approach, and field of study:
 Grand strategy is the art of reconciling ends and means. It involves purposive action – what leaders think and want.
 It operates in peacetime and wartime, incorporating military and non-military tools, and aggregating subsidiary tactics, operations, and policies.
 Grand strategy begins with theory: leaders‘ ideas about how the world and what is or ought to be their states‘ roles in that world. Yet it is embodied in policy and practice: government action and reaction in response to real (or perceived) threats and opportunities

Note: I left the last point out as I don't see it contributing to the definition of Grand Strategy.

You may want to consider starting a discussion on this topic as you seem to be one of the few who seems to grasp the subject clearly.

Backwards Observer
05-26-2011, 08:36 AM
One of the best sources on Vietnam in this period is Archimedes Patti's Why Viet Nam.

Major Archimedes Patti of the OSS makes a brief interview appearance at about 4':37" in this clip from "The Ten Thousand Day War - Episode 2, Dien Bien Phu". There's also a brief interview with General Sir Douglas Gracey in another episode, but I can't recall which one. As far as I remember, General Gracey appears to experience genuine consternation when asked why he re-armed Japanese troops rather than working with the 'wascally webels' of the Viet Minh. Damned scallywags, the very idea!

The Ten Thousand Day War - Ep2 Dien Bien Phu - Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0PPFqXtwnA&feature=related)

davidbfpo
05-26-2011, 09:30 AM
dayuhan,

In Post 93 you asked:Are there any recorded instances of IJA forces actually fighting communist forces in China post-surrender? I don't know of any, but there might be some. In Indochina the Japanese were technically responsible for maintaining order but in fact exercised virtually no effort to contain the violence. These orders may have been given but I'm not at all sure they were carried out.

When I read the USMC history re the Corps in China there were references to railway guards etc. I do not recall a greater role,it was a quick read. See:http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/V/USMC-V-V-3.html and the successive chapters.

In Indochina the IJA did respond to General Gracey's orders, as part of the agreements and surrender protocols, with defensive and offensive action. I rely on 'The First Vietnam War' by Peter M. Dunn (Pub. 1985) which makes numerous references to the IJA fighting, in particular two infantry battalions outside Saigon and the curious affection the IJA showed when the 20th Division left - replicated in China too.

Yes, some IJA did not obey, others deserted (especially in north Indochina) and others joined the Viet Minh. The vast bulk of the IJA, with masses of civilians in China, wanted to get home and only the Allies were going to get that done.

What happened in north Indochina is less clear and little is said in Dunn's book. The Chinese Nationalists occupied the area, although unclear if beyond Tonkin and Hanoi, say south to Hue (they also visited Laos, to get two opium crops harvested). How the IJA were evacuated is unknown to me.

Dayuhan
05-26-2011, 10:32 AM
In your article you lay out FDR's vision. Despite his best efforts his vision failed to be fulfilled and as can be or should have been anticipated the resulting failure was a train smash. Truman (and the rest of the free world) had to deal with the wreckage.

FDR died before much of this vision had a chance to get much effort... and there's been nothing cited or said here that suggests that the post-war train wreck was somehow caused by FDRs vision. Certainly there are many other causes available for consideration; why would anyone think that the post-war chaos was somehow solely a consequence of one man's dream? Q quite bizarre contention, really...

For three terms and 82 days FDR prepared the ground work for his vision and as such a series of activities had been set in motion and as has been stated the ghost of FDR still haunts US foreign policy to this day.

FDRs actual time in office was spent responding to the exigencies of depression and war, not pursuing a long-term vision. In an average day between 1929 and 1945, how much time did American Presidents have had to spend pursuing any dream beyond getting through that day intact? It was not an easy time.

His sudden death did not bring all that he had started to an immediate halt. There was momentum which carried his vision forward.

Stated, but unsupported. What specific "set of activities" was set in motion, and what specific impacts are you suggesting they had on subsequent developments?

His Four Policemen idea relied on emasculating the British and consigning them to a subservient role to the US and tasked with "looking after" western Europe. In this he succeeded.

The US didn't "emasculate the British". They didn't need to; the British did that all by themselves. If you're going to allege US emasculation, please explain how exactly you think this took place. Postwar Britain was not in a position to "look after" anything, regardless of anything the US did. The European powers weren't "emasculated" by any outside force, they fought each other until they were depleted. The process culminated in WW2, but didn't start there.

As stated and proved by history he backed the wrong horse in China.

Possibly so, but in the long run did it really make much difference in the way things emerged in China? I see no reason to believe that it did, or that US backing for Mao would have somehow brought the Chinese into some kind of pro-US fold. Is there anything beyond vague "what if" speculation to suggest that US China policy post WW2 was a critical element in setting that country's direction? The US isn't necessarily in the center of everything. Chiang was going to fall, Mao was going to take over, and Mao was going to run things his way... and this is what would have happened no matter what FDR had decided or who he had backed. Whatever vision FDR had for China was an insubstantial cloud in a gale-strength wind. He was not in a position to impose his visions on China, and who he backed or didn't back was not a deciding factor in what happened.

His supposed "understanding" of Stalin was a disaster. He was so desperate to bring and keep Stalin on board that he was prepared to be manipulated by Stalin at just about every turn. To the extent that he was prepared to exclude eastern European countries from his third pillar "The Right of Self-Determination" and allow Stalin a free hand. 50 years later eastern Europe is trying to recover.

Again, what happened didn't happen because of FDR. FDR could have placed East European independence at the core of his vision and it wouldn't have made any difference. The Soviet Union would still have finished the war in physical possession of Eastern Europe. Stalin would not have given up that possession because of any vision FDR might have had, and there was nothing that FDR could have done to compel him to give up that possession. FDR's dreams were dust in the wind, no impact at all on that equation. In practical, realistic terms, what did FDR ever do that allowed the Soviets to occupy Eastern Europe, which they would have done in any case? In practical, realistic terms, what could FDR have thought, said, or done that would have removed the Soviets once that occupation was established? Nothing. The dream was a dream, what happened was what would have happened in any event. It was never FDRs choice to make.

His post colonial outcome was naive to say the least. The mind boggles that he thought that it would work by "Enabling formerly colonial societies to achieve independence through an evolution of governance, rather than revolution against governance; all under the watchful eye of the four policemen."

And these four objective policemen would guide these nations to "Self-Determination" and independence "through an evolution of governance"? Come on.

A very naive vision indeed... but again, what impact did this vision actually have on the subsequent decisions made by colonized peoples and colonial powers after FDRs death? The colonies were going to break away no matter what FDR envisioned. That didn't happen because of FDRs vision, it happened because the colonized wanted out, the colonial powers no longer had the capacity to keep them in, and support for Empire on the home front was evaporating. How was any of that a consequence of FDRs vision? How did FDRs vision affect, say, the mutinies among British armed forces in India, the subsequent spread of strikes and riots, and the British realization that they could no longer keep the colony?

Again, where are the specific actions that link this nebulous vision to what actually happened? There was a vision, there were subsequent events, but how do you justify a claim that the vision was the cause of the subsequent events?

Lots of people had visions at the close of WW2. Most of them were blown away by events, events driven not by any individual's vision but by a complex interplay of a huge array of competing interests. The people who drove the actual decolonization process didn't make their choices and decisions because of FDRs dreams, they had their own reasons.

FDR could have believed that empire was as wonderful as a Rudyard Kipling fantasy, and empires would still have fallen as the dust from WW2 settled. The imperial powers were too depleted by war to hold on, the people in the colonies knew it, and the home front had other priorities. It was done, finished, over, no matter what FDR wanted. Where was the tangible impact of his vision? What actions were based on this vision and how exactly did they affect the decolonization? Is there anything but speculation in these contentions?

As an aside I am somewhat taken aback at the denial displayed by some in relation to the effect of FDR on the world. If his foreign policy was positive for the US I can't for the life of me see how. He was certainly not good for Europe, Africa and large chunks of Asia. So for who and where did FDR idealism work?

I wouldn't call FDRs postwar impact hugely positive or negative. He died too soon to have much postwar impact at all. Like most Presidents he was a man of his times, many of his actions were reactions to often desperate circumstances, and he was driven as much by need as by vision. The only vision he had that was ever implemented was prevailing at war, by the time the rest of it came to doing he was dead and other people's visions took over. Like so many others, his visions were overtaken by events beyond his control and dissipated with few real consequences. Of interest to those curious about the history of visions, but with very little impact on how the postwar world actually emerged.

The question at hand is whether FDRs idealism had any real impact at all on post-war decision making or post-war actions. Idealism has no impact on anyone until it is translated into action. What actions were driven by this idealism, and what consequences did they produce that weren't well on the way to happening in any event?

"Great man" history, as stated before here, rarely explains anything with any adequacy... nobody's that big and there are too many other trends and influences at play. Decolonization certainly saw many mistakes by many people, but if you want to connect those mistakes to the vision of a man who died before that process got underway you'll have to show some kind of evidence of causative links between the vision and actual events. So far we've seen none at all.

Bob's World
05-26-2011, 11:38 AM
Individuals matter. In that regard, FDR, as the leader of a nation emerging as the most powerful of its era, mattered.

But on the issues of the end of colonialism?? Populaces in the collective matter far more than any individual. The US acted to re-establish as many colonial governments as we did to liberate colonial populaces. We did so in the name of Containment, national interests, and often simply because we were new in the role of "Leader" and were uncomfortable in telling or former superiors "No." No surprises really in any of that, human nature and all. It was people seeking liberty, respect, justice, and a government that drew its legitimacy from them and not from others, that carried the day. It was popualces who, empowered by information and knowledge who found the understanding that things could be better than what they had always known, and the courage to act to achieve that end. Sometimes we lent a hand up, too often that hand held a gun and a demand to get back into the box of colonialism. Communism had to be contained, and we had decided that certain nations would have to put their goals for liberty on hold in order to serve as a line of defense against that ideological threat.

At the end of the day, that is the common element that bonds and binds us all. We are human, and we cannot escape that foundation of commonality that all of our differences are piled upon.

I was forwarded a terrific speech given by Major General Buster Howes, OBE, Commandant General of the Royal Marines, in it he quoted several historic figures, but one in particular spoke to me that has relevance here. "Thucydides, the father of political realism, believed that we are fixed by a trinity of honour, fear and interest."

Indeed. As individuals, as collectives, as nations, as national leaders. It is time for us to reassess what scares us, and to realize that others are scared as well, others have points of honor they feel compelled to act upon, and others have interests that will differ from our own. In this understanding we will find solutions that serve our interests in a manner that leaves our honor intact.

I don't know if this is "complicated," "complex," or "simple." I do know that it is damn hard.

slapout9
05-26-2011, 02:10 PM
Bob, to pick up on Grand Strategy as opposed to down the line strategies of a military kind.

I have found the lack of understanding of the difference between a nation's Grand Strategy and other subordinate strategies to be widely prevalent.

From my own little war one hears nonsense like "Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat" and when challenged about which strategy the result is silence.

I borrow from your article where you quote Dr. Peter Feaver on Grand Strategy as follows:


B]Note:[/B] I left the last point out as I don't see it contributing to the definition of Grand Strategy.

You may want to consider starting a discussion on this topic as you seem to be one of the few who seems to grasp the subject clearly.

Is it possible for America to have a Grand Strategy? The reason I ask is in a 2party system one party always has to make the other party look bad in order to get elected. To have and follow a Grand Strategy requires some type of a Unified appraoch by both parties in order to pursue the Strategy.

Steve Blair
05-26-2011, 02:31 PM
Is it possible for America to have a Grand Strategy? The reason I ask is in a 2party system one party always has to make the other party look bad in order to get elected. To have and follow a Grand Strategy requires some type of a Unified appraoch by both parties in order to pursue the Strategy.

This has been discussed before in a number of places on the board. My position has always been that it isn't possible for the U.S. to have a grand strategy, and that has more to do with our basic system than the 2-party framework. When you're in a two-year cycle of revolution, consistency isn't easy. Also, our system focuses inward in most cases (especially with Democrats after say 1900).

Steve Blair
05-26-2011, 02:36 PM
Individuals matter. In that regard, FDR, as the leader of a nation emerging as the most powerful of its era, mattered.

Obviously they do. The question becomes how much do they matter and how wide is their actual influence. "Great man" theory also tends to focus excessively on the impact of the "great man" and much less on the actions of those around him or the society that produced the "great man." FDR was a product of, and in some ways a reaction to, his time.

Ken White
05-26-2011, 02:58 PM
The US system doesn't allow for a 'grand strategy.' Numerous attempts to implant one have always run afoul of the electoral cycle AND the fact that Americans, unlike most from the European hearth are not in favor of long term stability, deeming it (a) unlikely to sustain and (b) inimical to progress.

Also agree with Steve on the 'Great Man' theory. In most cases, it's not the man -- or woman -- but a series of events and the era that produce the appearance. The case can be made that the US has always produced a 'great' President when it seemed to need one and that most of the others were mediocrities. It is also noteworthy that History takes some time to be properly absorbed and seeming muddlers get elevated to good while some phenomenons get downgraded to terrible

That's a function of events, not personality. Events and that same system that doesn't augur for a grand strategy...

Fuchs
05-26-2011, 03:08 PM
Well, Germans like von Bismarck or Friedrich II were the driving force behind the events that created their reputation. The former was clearly a great man of grand strategy - both in domestic and foreign policy.

Bob's World
05-26-2011, 03:29 PM
To be clear, on the topic of this thread, I give credit to "great populaces" rather than to "great men."

As to the topic of Grand Strategy, it reminds me of the old saying in regards to women, "can't live with them, and you can't live without them."

I will, however, take the optimistic position on this. Rather than bemoaning how our divisive political process makes a Grand Strategy untenable, I will instead offer that a good grand strategy becomes a force for providing a common purpose to both parties that facilitates coordination and compromise. The certainty of the Soviet threat and the Containment grand strategy are often sorely missed in certain circles. Replacing that with "counterterrorism" and a debate over kinetic vs. nation building tactics leaves critical thinkers on both sides of the aisle feeling like there must be something more fulfilling to guide and shape our actions.

Historically grand strategies have been threat-based. A mosquito of a threat such as AQ does not make a worthy opponent for a nation of the substance of the United States, and we embarrass ourselves when we attempt to make it out to be one. We need a new focus worthy of our nation and our people. We also need that focus to be a positive one rather than a negative one. We will have real threats soon enough, it will be sad if we squander an era of relative peace and stability chasing mosquitoes. Energy independence free of fossil fuels is such a focus. An economy based in our own efforts and accomplishments is such a focus. Turning minor irritants such as Iran or AQ into something bigger than they are is unworthy. Becoming a global charity or peddler of US morality is unworthy. We need a grand strategy. Something worthy of our nation that we can unify around and pursue with alacrity.

Cheers!

Bob

Steve Blair
05-26-2011, 03:33 PM
Well, Germans like von Bismarck or Friedrich II were the driving force behind the events that created their reputation. The former was clearly a great man of grand strategy - both in domestic and foreign policy.

Fuchs, you seem to have missed part of the point. Great man theory clearly has its uses, and I do think it has a bit more weight in the pre-1900s era. But it is still not the be-all and end-all of historical analysis. Bismarck also existed within a system that allowed him to function in this way.

Great man theory is more useful in systems where a monarch of some sort exercises almost total political and military control over a state. As the state or system expands, the usefulness of great man theory decreases. Great men still matter, as mentioned above, but you also have to start looking at a wider scope of people or events to see just how they matter and what they may or may not influence.

ganulv
05-26-2011, 07:06 PM
As Marx said (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch01.htm), “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

davidbfpo
05-26-2011, 07:10 PM
Yes, Moderator at work. It is now 'End of Empires: who and what was responsible? (post WW2)' and emphasis added.

Bob's World
05-26-2011, 07:33 PM
While I can not prove that he single handedly led to the end of empires,

If Ken White had been in the movie "300" the title of the film would have been "1"

JMA
05-29-2011, 05:12 PM
I thought the matter of an ill/sick/incapacitated President had been dealt with after Woodrow Wilson?

These matters keep rearing their ugly heads because it has been reported that JFK was ill at the Vienna in 1961 (http://www.amazon.com/Berlin-1961-Frederick-Kempe/dp/0399157298) when the wily and experienced Khrushchev in Kennedy' own words "beat the hell out of me."

Here's a review of Kempe's book: Berlin 1961 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704816604576335594159928256.html)

... and from the review this applies also to another "very inexperienced, even immature" young US President:

... as Mr. Kempe puts it in the final sentence of this mind-shaking work of investigative history, an example "of what unfree systems can impose when free leaders fail to resist."

And Charlie Rose's interview with Kempe (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11672)

Dayuhan
05-30-2011, 12:25 AM
... maybe we need a thread for "decisions by US Presidents, and speculations about their impact".

Can't comment on the book, which I haven't read, but the reviewer's judgment is called into some question with this:

Mr. Kempe's point is that Kennedy's indecisiveness in the early stages of the crisis produced the wall itself, an exponential increase in East-West tension, and, in the half-century that followed, other fateful consequences that included the Cuban missile crisis—and, though Mr. Kempe doesn't say so, the Vietnam War, along with social and strategic spores that lodged in the American psyche and darkened world opinion with results yet to be revealed.

The idea that the Vietnam War was a "consequence" of events in Berlin is really pretty bizarre, especially since that war was already in progress in 1961, albeit without American involvement.

The litany of "consequence" seems a bit overblown to me. It's rare in world events to see such a broad range of trends trace back to a single event, an event that was in itself one in a long chain of events. I suspect that the impact is being exaggerated to enhance the significance of the point being made... and "spores that lodged in the American psyche and darkened world opinion with results yet to be revealed" seems way melodramatic.

What we don't know in any such case is what would have happened if other actions had been taken. Was Kennedy worked by Kruschev? Probably. Would things have turned out vastly differently if he'd taken a different approach? We don't know. Would more "toughness" have prevented the wall? We don't know. If the wall hadn't gone up, would subsequent events in Eastern Europe have changed dramatically? We don't know. How much "toughness" would it have taken to kick off a war? We don't know. Would that war have been won by the West? We don't know. Would Europe have survived that war? We don't know.

Anyone who claims to know "what would have happened if..." is full of it. Speculation is speculation and always will be.

What we do know is that there was no war in Europe, the Soviet Union collapsed, and despite all the mistakes along the way (there will always be mistakes) the overall strategy of containing the Soviets until their inherently dysfunctional economic system brought them down from the inside was ultimately effective. Long way from perfect, but could have been much much worse. Could it have been done faster, or better? Maybe. We don't know. We also don't know what the unintended consequences of any attempt to do it faster and better would have been.

... and from the review this applies also to another "very inexperienced, even immature" young US President:

How so? The current young President doesn't have to worry about what unfree systems are imposing due to his failure to resist... where is any "unfree system" imposing on the US? The greatest problems the US faces are not in the foreign policy realm at all, but in the domestic economic system that provides the capacity to resist imposition. Neither those problems nor those of foreign policy are as dire as they are sometimes built up to be, but that's usually the case.

Ken White
05-30-2011, 02:19 AM
The idea that the Vietnam War was a "consequence" of events in Berlin is really pretty bizarre, especially since that war was already in progress in 1961, albeit without American involvement.The Military Assistanc and Advisory Group, Viet Nam stood up on 1 November 1955 but there had been a Military Equipment Delivery Team (which also had some advisors) there since September of 1950. There were eight US KIA from 1957 through 1960, 16 during 1961 alone before any Kennedy buildup and it climbed thereafter. Beyond bizarre. The Brothers Kennedy decided to go to war to bring a US economy out of the doldrums (~90% IMO) and to show they were tough (~10& IMO). Anything Nikita did was ancillary to that.

Viet Nam is fascinating. It was the progenitor of much of the left right divide and not only in the US. I've read a lot of 'history' of that war and found very, very little that does not have a great deal of misinformation and / or bias -- in both directions. Strangely, most (not all) of the stuff I've read on Korea tracks with little to no bias or ideological cant and what I've read of other wars tracks with what people who were in them told me. Veet Name was weeerd...

As an aside and based solely on that review, many of Kempe's other assertions appear beyond dubious....The greatest problems the US faces are not in the foreign policy realm at all, but in the domestic economic system that provides the capacity to resist imposition. Neither those problems nor those of foreign policy are as dire as they are sometimes built up to be, but that's usually the case.Quite true...

Dayuhan
05-30-2011, 06:38 AM
The Military Assistanc and Advisory Group, Viet Nam stood up on 1 November 1955 but there had been a Military Equipment Delivery Team (which also had some advisors) there since September of 1950. There were eight US KIA from 1957 through 1960, 16 during 1961 alone before any Kennedy buildup and it climbed thereafter. Beyond bizarre.

True, and I should have said "with minimal American involvement". Somehow it's hard to think of America as "involved" these days unless we're in something up to our eyeballs, easy to forget that it was not always so.

The Brothers Kennedy decided to go to war to bring a US economy out of the doldrums (~90% IMO) and to show they were tough (~10& IMO). Anything Nikita did was ancillary to that.

I'd guess there was a bit of desire to draw the kind of "rally round the leader" spirit that wartime Presidents once enjoyed... another thing that's changed!

RTO
05-30-2011, 09:31 PM
in the case of Vietnam:



That generic assertion can be true; that is, "not worth the effort and the sacrifice and the cost" can be a "makeweight" - a late in the game dodge - to "justify" a "cut and run". On the other hand, it can be a consistent argument for not intervening in the first place - which argument continues throughout the intervention and may prevail to result in a termination of the intervention.

In the case of Vietnam, the "Vietnam ain't worth much" thesis goes back to whether or not the US should provide materiel assistence in May 1950, or whether more direct measures should be taken. The 1950-1951 War College conclusions (my post #13 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=121293&postcount=13)) presented a 5-point argument:


which was reiterated by other military leaders throughout the course of the conflict (e.g., the JCS in 1954 and Ridgway from 1954 into 1970).

1470

1471

1472

(all three snips from Dave Petraeus' thesis)

Those "Never Again, but-ers" were neither pacifists nor "cutters and runners". They simply recognized from the outset that Vietnam would be a very hard slog (if not impossible after Pres. Kennedy decided to "neutralize" Laos and Cambodia) - requiring a huge investment if a ground war were pursued.

The LBJ administration (largely a continuation of Kennedy administration personnel) and LBJ himself marginalized the JCS - McMaster's Dereliction of Duty (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/dp/0060929081) lays out the case (and the lies) in detail (68 Customer Reviews (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/product-reviews/0060929081/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_summary?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending)). He reaches much the same conclusions as I did (back in the 1960s) and hold now (pp.333-334):



I'd add that many of the failings lay in excessive idealism (in both domestic and foreign affairs - e.g., the Great Society and Third World Modernization); and, in the related ideology that everything can be managed and controlled, including warfare.

I'd also add that, whatever one concludes as to Vietnam, the end result in Southeast Asia was not a disaster for the US. Dayuhan doesn't believe the US had much (if anything) to do with that; I differ. There is no point in arguing different beliefs.

My conclusion: each case, and its arguments pro and con, for US intervention, past and present, must be examined separately. An assertion attibuting motives and stereotypes - based on a generic proposition (true only in some cases) - is frankly as dumb as saying: "If you ain't for me (my beliefs), you are against me."

Regards

Mike
Excellent analysis. When I came back from my tour on March 8, 1968, I still thought there was a slight chance for success. However, by the end of 1968 it became clear that the American public wanted out. I still supported the war because I thought it was shameful to leave the South Vietnamese hung out to dry. The United States never had a large margin for error and far too many mistakes were made (exemptions, one year tours, too many support troops,etc.) between the assassination of President Diem and the Tet Offensive

Ray
11-10-2011, 04:47 PM
Any comments with depth on British colonisation of India?

davidbfpo
07-10-2012, 04:32 PM
Dayuhan in Post 180 writes:Ask yourself, honestly... if the British hadn't assured the return of French rule in 1945, or if the Americans had not stepped in after the French defeat and forced the division of Vietnam in 1954... would that not have led to a Vietnamese solution to a Vietnamese problem?

Over the last few years with my irregular reading on post-VJ Day allied military action, including the USMC expedition in Manchuria, I have always been puzzled by the logistics of the period.

I understood that imperial allies such as the British Empire, the Dutch and French after VE Day and VJ Day relied upon American shipping, not only for national survival (food), but also to fight Japan and restore imperial rule. If true and to my knowledge neither France nor the Dutch had large serviceable merchant fleets, maybe not the British, then French and Dutch troops reached Indochina and what is now Indonesia on US ships.

Yes, Roosevelt was again empires and colonialism. Not so sure about Truman.

Just asking if anyone knows.

Bob's World
07-10-2012, 05:28 PM
David,

You are correct. We will never know what would have happened if Roosevelt would have survived, but it is pretty safe to assume that the Colonial powers would have been denied from reasserting their influence over their former colonies. Not so much because Americans are such great libertarians, but we sure as hell hated the monopolies on trade and the restricted access we had to endure under the colonial system.

I suspect that Roosevelt would also not have bought into the Containment strategy. I suspect he would have been more in alignment with other, far less intrusive and expensive approaches offered by policy thinkers such as Walter Lippmann. But containment is the approach we adopted, and at tremendous cost of treasure and influence it sufficed to avoid a major conflict between the Soviet-led East and the American-led West. But it is long past time to move on. We continue to apply variations of containment as a whole to the globe, and to specific problems as well. We spent years containing Saddam's Iraq. We seek to contain AQ and their ideology in the FATA (which I will never understand), we seek to contain Iranian and Chinese influence within regions that are logically within their spheres of influence. We need to recognize that such spheres can, will and do overlap, and will do so to greater degree and frequency as other regional powers continue to rise and as the brief era of US hegemony fades. This is a return to a much more normal dynamic than what existed during the Cold War. It is a different thing, not a bad thing. What will make it good or bad is how well we adapt to deal with the changes.

What I find myself very frustrated with, however, are the following questions for my fellow Americans:

1. When did the Constitution become irrelevant?

2. When did the Declaration of Independence become inconvenient?

3. When did the thinking of our historic leaders, such as Washington and Lincoln become "illegitimate"?

Inertia is a powerful force, and it is one we are caught up within. The sooner we recognize that the better.
Not

Steve Blair
07-10-2012, 05:43 PM
You mean the guy who made sure Imperial Japan was cut off from oil imports?

Quite. Ol' FDR was certainly into Containment of a sort. It depended on what his needs were at the time. I think it's more instructive to look at his behavior prior to the outbreak of the war than it is to look at decisions he made prior to Yalta and after. He was fading then, and certainly under sway of his own infallibility.

And I'd caution a couple folks in this thread to please debate issues and not personalities.

David, I tend to think Truman (who was a product of the St. Louis political "machine" if I remember correctly) was more concerned with domestic issues and didn't know much about foreign policy (a fairly common thing for many Democratic presidents). He tended to react in the foreign policy area, and was perhaps too dependent on his advisers (who were often FDR appointees). He was also concerned with appearing "weak," and thus would react to Republican accusations of weakness with perhaps more force than was necessary.

Dayuhan
07-11-2012, 12:34 AM
I understood that imperial allies such as the British Empire, the Dutch and French after VE Day and VJ Day relied upon American shipping, not only for national survival (food), but also to fight Japan and restore imperial rule. If true and to my knowledge neither France nor the Dutch had large serviceable merchant fleets, maybe not the British, then French and Dutch troops reached Indochina and what is now Indonesia on US ships.

All from memory, don't have the references in front of me, but my recollection is that the Chinese were assigned to accept the Japanese surrender, disarm and repatriate Japanese troops, release POWs, and maintain order in northern Indochina. The British were to do the same in the south. Gen. Douglas Gracey was the British commander in the south, with Indian troops, and he made it immediately clear that he interpreted "maintaining order" as restoration of French rule. Japanese forces were deployed against the Viet Minh, and released French POWs were not repatriated, but armed and assisted in efforts to reassert French control. When French military units arrived they were transported by British ships. You'd think the British might have had other priorities, but apparently the though of a precedent for colonies breaking away was a matter of some concern.

Douglas MacArthur was quoted at the time as follows:

"If there is anything that makes my blood boil it is to see our allies in Indo-China ...deploying Japanese troops to conquer the little people we promised to liberate. It is the most ignoble kind of betrayal."

Of course MacArthur at the time was doing all in his power to assure that the pre-war elite, many of whom had collaborated with the Japanese, were re-established in power in the Philippines, including armed suppression of active anti-Japanese guerrillas who opposed that old feudal order... but I digress.

The charge that the British were responsible for the re-establishment of French rule in Indochina - and thus arguably for the Vietnam War - is supported by a fair bit of history.

Legitimacy, in my view, doesn't come from the takers of power being able to speak the same language as the people they gain power over. It comes from how they treat those people. Mass murder justified by that most pure and legitimate of votes, revolutionary victory, is still mass murder and vitiates any claim to legitimacy.

In actual practice, you get legitimacy by winning.

In most of the post-colonial world, legitimacy was achieved by whoever threw out the hated colonists. That's one place where the US didn't get it... for us it was all about communists vs capitalists, on site is was all about us vs them. In any event your opinion or mine on what's legitimate for China or Vietnam is about as relevant as the opinion of a Vietnamese or Chinese on what's legitimate for the US.

I know you were there and I wasn't and I say this at my peril, but there was just too much hard fighting and too many South Vietnamese casualties for me to not too see some determined, though ultimately futile, resistance to the communists. A lot of it may have been people doing what circumstances forced them to do, but that can be said about most people caught up in war. In my view, it is plain that South Vietnam fought long and hard, though not too well, to keep the communists at bay.

People in many parts of the (including Vietnam) world fought hard and long, many under the banner of communism, against antediluvian dictatorships installed and/or supported by the US in the name of fighting communism. Does that mean neither side was "legitimate"?

It is true that communist regimes will eventually fail. But I think they fail faster if opposed. That increment of time covered by "faster" means a lot of people not suffering as much as they otherwise would have. And of course, if those regimes are never installed at all, it normally means even less suffering.

If "opposed" means fighting a war on someone else's territory, that's going to create a lot of suffering too... and in many cases a government that has to fight for an extended period will be much more brutal about ruling than a government that takes power without extended conflict, because extended conflict tends to bring the harshest elements and those least amenable to compromise into positions of power. The idea that the US should try to determine who is or is not "installed" on the basis of our assumptions about who will or will not be brutal seems fairly flawed to me.

How do you propose that the US "oppose" the few Communist regimes remaining today? We can't afford an arms race and it would likely do us as much harm (or more) as it would to those we propose to oppose. Militarist posturing and rhetoric isn't going to intimidate them and provides abundant propaganda fodder to help them keep their domestic audience in line. What do you propose that the US actually do, particularly as related to RCJ's proposition that a smaller US military is desirable?

davidbfpo
07-11-2012, 10:13 AM
Dayuhan added and edited down:When French military units arrived they were transported by British ships. You'd think the British might have had other priorities, but apparently the though of a precedent for colonies breaking away was a matter of some concern.

Thank you. Leaving the French aside now. I was stunned to read that the Dutch massively mobilised to enable a large expeditionary force being sent to what is now Indonesia; something like 250k and again I expect US shipping was used.

Now for Douglas MacArthur who was quoted at the time as follows:If there is anything that makes my blood boil it is to see our allies in Indo-China ...deploying Japanese troops to conquer the little people we promised to liberate. It is the most ignoble kind of betrayal

I am quite an admirer of MacArthur, albeit based on reading one biography. That aside the quote is a classic, no, not as I am an apologist for British decisions in 1945. Rather that in Manchuria the US intervention, with a US Marine Corps, used Japanese troops to secure the railways notably and IIRC fought off Chinese raids.

In Indonesia IIRC the Japanese Army played a very different role, partly as a large number had defected to the local nationalist cause and the bulk had been disarmed. Ironically the British Indian division that was in Saigon went onto Indonesia, where it was involved in some of the heaviest fighting it had seen in the war against the nationalists.

davidbfpo
07-11-2012, 01:20 PM
Posts 119-123 first appeared on the current discussion 'What we support and defend' and have been copied here - where they sit better. I'd overlooked the issue had appeared here and my initial question over how the French had been shipped to Saigon was answered by JMM.

Dayuhan
07-12-2012, 12:34 AM
I was stunned to read that the Dutch massively mobilised to enable a large expeditionary force being sent to what is now Indonesia; something like 250k and again I expect US shipping was used.

Any reference to suggest reliance on US shipping? I can't find one, though I have read that in 1949 the US threatened to shut off Marshall Plan aid to the Netherlands in protest over the conduct of the Dutch reoccupation. If the US had indeed provided logistic support to that reoccupation, that would have marked a quite abrupt reversal of position.

I am quite an admirer of MacArthur, albeit based on reading one biography. That aside the quote is a classic, no, not as I am an apologist for British decisions in 1945. Rather that in Manchuria the US intervention, with a US Marine Corps, used Japanese troops to secure the railways notably and IIRC fought off Chinese raids.

One might see some hypocrisy there, yes. I confess that I am not a huge admirer of MacArthur, though that may be to some extent be biased by my primarily Philippine orientation. He's not altogether well thought of here, largely because of his role in the postwar restoration of the prewar feudal elite... admittedly a small part of the whole story, but a small part that seems big in these parts.

The issue of collaboration with the Japanese by the Philippine elite, and the anger it evoked among many Americans, always seemed ironic to me. On the surface of it there seems little surprise in collaboration with the Japanese invading conquerors by the same elite that had collaborated so willingly with American invading conquerors, and whose ancestors had collaborated so willingly with Spanish invading conquerors. Bit of evidence of how easy it is to convince ourselves that we are different...